The Fate of Rome

The Fate of Rome

Climate, Disease, and the End of An Empire

Book - 2017
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A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease helped bring down the Roman Empire Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome's power--a story of nature's triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. He takes readers from Rome's pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a "little ice age" and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague. A poignant reflection on humanity's intimate relationship with the environment, The Fate of Rome provides a sweeping account of how one of history's greatest civilizations encountered, endured, yet ultimately succumbed to the cumulative burden of nature's violence. The example of Rome is a timely reminder that climate change and germ evolution have shaped the world we inhabit--in ways that are surprising and profound.
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780691166834
Branch Call Number: 937.06 HARPER
Characteristics: 417 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

This new work will be of interest to those who claim parallels between the fall of Rome and the current tottering Western World. New archeology has revealed some surprising factors in the collapse of Rome that we moderns might well consider as we make our choices of action or inaction. Very reada... Read More »

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Jul 08, 2018

Brilliant book by a talented historian. Kyle Harper has amassed the most current knowledge in: archeology, biogeography, genomics, agriculture, earth/sun science, plagues--from DNA samples and from extant contemporary writings, on and on -- I know I am forgetting a lot of subjects. Oh, economics. demographics and medicine. His writing is so good, so very good. 115 pages of appendices, notes and bibliography. I adore university press books and am always so grateful to Sno-Isle for buying us some.
Excellent review in LA Review of Books from Dec 17, 1017. I read the review after reading the book.


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