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Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

Walter Scheidel

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Princeton University Press
15 October 2019
History; General & world history; Ancient history: to c 500 CE; Social & cultural history; Economic history
The gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world The fall of the Roman Empire has long been considered one of the greatest disasters in history. But in this groundbreaking book, Walter Scheidel argues that Rome's dramatic collapse was actually the best thing that ever happened, clearing the path for Europe's economic rise and the creation of the modern age. Ranging across the entire premodern world, Escape from Rome offers new answers to some of the biggest questions in history: Why did the Roman Empire appear? Why did nothing like it ever return to Europe? And, above all, why did Europeans come to dominate the world?

In an absorbing narrative that begins with ancient Rome but stretches far beyond it, from Byzantium to China and from Genghis Khan to Napoleon, Scheidel shows how the demise of Rome and the enduring failure of empire-building on European soil ensured competitive fragmentation between and within states. This rich diversity encouraged political, economic, scientific, and technological breakthroughs that allowed Europe to surge ahead while other parts of the world lagged behind, burdened as they were by traditional empires and predatory regimes that lived by conquest. It wasn't until Europe escaped from Rome that it launched an economic transformation that changed the continent and ultimately the world.

What has the Roman Empire ever done for us? Fall and go away.
By:   Walter Scheidel
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Volume:   94
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780691172187
ISBN 10:   0691172188
Series:   The Princeton Economic History of the Western World
Pages:   696
Publication Date:   15 October 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. His many books include The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton). He lives in Palo Alto, California. Twitter @WalterScheidel

Reviews for Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

In a masterpiece of global history spanning over two millennia, Walter Scheidel tells us why western Europe remained politically fragmented after the collapse of Rome, why the rest of the world gravitated toward empire, and why that enduring political contrast explains the origins of sustained economic growth. A fascinating book. Philip T. Hoffman, author of Why Did Europe Conquer the World? Escape from Rome is a brilliant and very important book by a great scholar at the top of his powers. This is a wholly convincing and innovative account, logically driven and based on stunning scholarship. It will become a classic. John A. Hall, coauthor of The Paradox of Vulnerability: States, Nationalism, and the Financial Crisis


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