The New Deal in Old Rome
How Government in the Ancient World Tried to Deal with Modern Problems
What a fantastic way to learn ancient history: via the parallels with modern times. This book was a smash hit when it first came out in 1939, and yet it went out of print, and hasn't been in print in half a century.
H.J. Haskell was a journalist with a background in ancient history, and here he does what everyone has wanted done. He details the amazing catalog of government interventions in old Rome that eventually brought the empire down. He shows the spending, the inflating, the attempt to fix prices and raise wages, the infrastructure boondoggles, the gross displays of public entertainment, the welfare scams, and much more.
At every step he draws a parallel with modern times. Modern governments also destroy the money to fund the state, extend vast military empires that are unmanageable, try to control the market order, and attempt to rig political decision making in order to buy off the population. The comparisons between then and now generate ominous lessons for our times.
The writing is clear, the research impeccable, and it teaches modern and ancient history in one entertaining yet scholarly package.
NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947