Edward J. Watts holds the Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair and is professor of history at the University of California, San Diego. The author and editor of several prize-winning books, including The Final Pagan Generation, he lives in Carlsbad, California.
Watts describes how the rise of an economic elite and increasing inequality brought about populist sentiment that was easily exploited by nefarious politicians. The parallels to the present day are striking. --New Yorker Watts chronicles the ways the republic, with a population once devoted to national service and personal honor, was torn to shreds by growing wealth inequality, partisan gridlock, political violence and pandering politicians, and argues that the people of Rome chose to let their democracy die by not protecting their political institutions, eventually turning to the perceived stability of an emperor instead of facing the continued violence of an unstable and degraded republic. --Smithsonian Readers will find many parallels to today's fraught political environment: the powerful influence of money in politics, a delegitimized establishment, and the emergence of a personality-driven, populist politicking. Watts ably and accessibly...covers a lot of ground in a manner accessible to all readers, including those with little knowledge of Roman history. This well-crafted analysis makes clear the subject matter's relevance to contemporary political conversations. --Publishers Weekly In a timely book of ancient history, an eminent classicist looks at Rome's decline from representative government to corrupt empire... Given that mistrust of institutions is a key ingredient in the collapse of republican rule, as we are witnessing daily, the lesson is pointed. An engaging, accessible history that, read between the lines, offers commentary on today's events as well as those of two millennia past. --Kirkus If the central analogy that animates Mortal Republic is correct, the current challenge to America's political system is likely to persist long after its present occupant has left the White House. --New York Times Book Review Mortal Republic provides excellent insights into how the Republic became the Empire, and more broadly it speaks to the ever-present threat of centralized power. The more a civilization centralizes, the more powerful a central government becomes. --New York Journal of Books