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Empires of Trust: How Rome Built--and America Is Building--a New World Hardcover – July 17, 2008

32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0525950745 ISBN-10: 0525950745

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Editorial Reviews


"An entertaining comparison by an astute historian. . .Gems for history buffs as well as those who have never considered that something that happened before 1900 might matter."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"A breakout book."
-Richard Ellis, author of Founding Fathers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Thomas F. Madden is a professor of history and chair of the department of history at Saint Louis University. His previous books include The New Concise History of the Crusades, currently the bestselling book on its subject in the world, and Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice, recipient of the Otto Gründler Prize. He has been featured in the media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, A&E television, The History Channel, PBS, and National Public Radio. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (July 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950745
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. As an author and historical consultant he has appeared in such venues as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The History Channel.

Awards for his scholarship include the Haskins Medal, awarded by the Medieval Academy of America, and the Otto Grundler Prize, awarded by the Medieval Institute. He is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Sam on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Classicist Thomas F Madden has seen the light. He realized after 9-11 that academics have a larger role to play in society than ivory tower occupiers. Since 9-11 he has consciously striven to help people understand the past and how it can help us determine the context in which we make some monumental decision in the present. While he still writes and publishes for academics, he has included the lay person and politician in his circle and has tried to make ancient history relevant.
Such is the foundation of Empires of Trust--ancient history made accessible. After having taken two years of College Latin and Roman history my understanding of that great civilization was changed forever after finishing Madden's work. He wrote the book mainly out of the misunderstanding of Rome and its empire, which has been used by a flood of writers of late to compare what they see as the decline of the United States' Empire with the corruption and decline of the Roman Empire. For starters, he points out that all comparisons of the US with the late Roman Empire is somewhat of a stretch and much of the material written is absurd. For instance whatever one's feelings about President Bush the comparisons to him and the Roman Caesars is laughable:
"Claiming that President Bush or any other American president is a new Pompey or Augustus is simply the kind of frivolousness to be expected in a time of pax. It sells books and makes for good talk show fodder, but it is historically absurd. The men who overturned the Roman Republic did so by wielding raw military power against their own government. Sending the armed forces to Iraq(after a supporting congressional resolution) is one thing, sending them to Washington DC, is quite another. (p.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ori Pomerantz on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The US is often compared to historical empires, yet the comparison usually rings hollow. If we are an empire and we conquered a country that produces oil, how come fuel is so expensive? If we are truly imperialistic, why did our troops leave Germany after conquering it in WWI? Why give Japan back its independence after WWII?

In this book, Thomas F. Madden compares the US to Rome. Rome is considered the quintessential empire in the west because it ruled so much and survived for so long. Thomas F. Madden shows the differences between Rome and other empires in history.

He makes the case that during the time when the Romans conquered their empire (until about 140 BCE):

1. They did not want an empire.
2. They wanted safety, which required allies in a dangerous world.
3. Keeping those alliances required them to fight their allies' enemies.
4. Having conquered their enemies, the Romans often attempted to turn them into allies, rather than conquered territories.
5. By 140 BC they had implicit control of the entire Mediterranean area, yet still insisted on keeping up the charade of their relationships with other polities being alliances between equals.

This, by itself, would make this book worthy reading for anybody interested in the history of western civilization. But Thomas Madden goes further than that. He shows the parallels between Rome and the US, and the world Rome inhabited (Greeks and Jews) and the one the US inhabits (West Europeans and Muslims).
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By N. Perz on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The problem with EoT is that the author has a tendency to either oversimplify or misrepresent history to support his thesis; he seems to discount the realities of power-politics. The examples are numerous but the two most egregious that come to mind were when he portrays the U.S. occupation of the Philippines as an accidental and benevolent liberation from Spain (it was brutal, opportunist, and overtly colonial) or that President Bush (the Elder) declined to occupy Baghdad and topple Saddam Hussein out of some high-minded desire to convert enemies into friends (he wanted to avoid a power-vacuum that the U.S. would have to try to fill to prevent the spread of Iranian influence and power in the Middle-East--that's why we maintained him in power from the 1980's onward).

While these simplistic presentations of history are surprising (and somewhat insulting to one's intelligence), it doesn't necessarily mean that his overall thesis is without merit. In fact, in many ways, the argument was compelling. Aside from the MAJOR flaw mentioned above, EoT is actually a very interesting read (especially if you enjoy digressions into Roman history). Yes, the point is overstated, but is still thought-provoking.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Montgomery on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most Americans don't like the idea of empires, myself included. But not all empires were of the purely conquest type. Madden offers a fresh look at how Rome grew to become the empire it did and how America is dealing with its own superpower status. He admits that the two are not similar in every way, but there are some similarities and common patterns that stand out. While I may not find what he has to offer as necessarily comforting, he does make some solid points.

Rome, as Madden argues, did not acquire an empire out of a desire to rule over other territories or to exploit their lands. Madden argues that Rome was merely interested in guaranteeing its own peace and security, which necessarily led to its expanding realm. It wanted allies, not enemies, and as a result Rome became a trusted power and was depended on by other states to safeguard their own security and their own way of life. Only in cases where Rome's adversaries posed ongoing threats did Rome find it necessary to destroy its rivals, such as Carthage, for example.

America also had and has a history of isolationist sentiment and has had to accept its role in the world, especially when its own security was threatened as in World War II. America became and remains a trusted power that doesn't seek to deprive other nations of their freedoms, as we ourselves cherish our own. This doesn't mean that other nations love us. To the contrary, because other nations expect us to act in a just fashion, do they feel they can verbally abuse us. If they thought we would deprive them of their sovereignty and destroy their way of life, do you think they would heap this verbal abuse on us? Most likely not. I agree with Madden on this point. Madden uses the Greeks behavior towards the Romans as an example.
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