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How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
Written by: Donald Robertson
Narrated by: Donald Robertson
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves stories of Marcus’ life from the Roman histories together with explanations of Stoicism - its philosophy and its psychology - to enlighten today’s listeners. He discusses Stoic techniques for coping with everyday problems, from irrational fears and bad habits to anger, pain, and illness. 

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes listeners on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian - taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day - through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides listeners through applying the same methods to their own lives. 

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.

©2019 Donald Robertson (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." (Ryan Holiday, best-selling author of The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic)

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Excellent

It’s incredibly difficult to find books like this. Firstly, the content it’s exciting and engaging. secondly, it’s useful. Thirdly, it’s practical. The author is credible and even suggests work from others as a follow up! Top marks!

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  • Eduard Ezeanu
  • 2019-04-12

Marvelous mix of a biography with stoicism and CBT

This is one of the best books I've read/listened to over the past 12 months (and I read/listen to a lot of books).

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor is really 3 books in one: 1) a biography of the great stoic philosopher and roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, 2) an exposure of important stoic teachings regarding virtue, resilience, dealing with anxiety, pain, anger and death, and 3) a presentation of modern CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) principles and techniques that connect with the ancient stoic teachings and further develop them.

The three components are intertwined seamlessly in each chapter and throughout the whole book, giving the book a good flow and pacing.

I found the story of the life of Marcus Aurelius very interesting and inspiring, and the stoicism and CBT advice very well explained and useful. Highly recommend this book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • JSchmidt
  • 2019-04-05

Stoicism is Relevent

Excellent Book, Excellent Author and Excellent Narration by the author. Everyone I talk to Adores his accent!

Marcus Aurelius believed in the Promise of Philosophy: which is to quell rage, endure pain, conquer fears, eliminate worries, even face the bugbear of death itself with equanimity. Who doesn't want that? It promises a fulfilling (Eudaimonic) and pro-social life. We can really use more of this now, and quick!

These promises are not to be had easily, but they are possible. We see evidence of this by carefully examining the lives of people who have used this system before such as Cato the younger, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as people of our own time: James Stockdale, David Goggins to name a couple.

To them, Philosophy wasn't something you just thought about, it was something you practiced and did! Dedicating every waking thought and action of your life to. But where are the university professors teaching this, and where are the celebrities and political leaders showing this by example? To be a practice, like Weight-training, Yoga or Brazilian Jujitsu, you got to actually have a program of "stuff" to do and practice, as well as an explanation why. Donald Robertson provides these things in a systematic, fascinating, entertaining, not to mention thought-provoking way. When you read this book, I believe you will be impelled to think and Act, and begin to realize that the promises of Philosophy are not just some impossible dreams, but as a reasoning human being, are not only obtainable, but may already be within your grasp.

I've followed Robertson's work for a few years now, and have looked forward to this book for a long time, and am on my second listen. enjoy! :D

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam M.
  • 2019-04-16

I'll be recommending this book to a lot of people

A brilliant guide to modern Stoicism.
An amazing insight into the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.
A well researched companion to "Meditations".
A very accessible and less clinical approach to CBT.
A fantastic introduction to Greek/Roman Philosophy.

I'm quite particular with audio/narration, Listening through headphones, Donald has a great voice but it has a lot of low end and the audio is recorded/mixed with quite a lot of top end/sibilance. If this bothers you, listen through an app that allows you to EQ them out. Or don't and use it as an opportunity to practice virtue.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryan
  • 2019-04-13

extremely easy to digest

great insight of the ancient stoics with very actionable methods of dealing with adversity. it makes me realize where the best book authors I have read get their knowledge. now I will enjoy going back to bits and pieces of the book for maintenance. A great operating system for life!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-04-19

Helpful/Applicable Stories

Was very interesting. The stories of Marcus Aurelius's life help to frame the proposed philosophies well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Herrick Spencer
  • 2019-04-17

wonderfully approachable book on stoicism

great find, love the Scottish accent. i enjoyed the blend of history and philosophy. I am already putting the advice to work myself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-06-05

Very interesting!

This book was remarkably well written and superbly narrated by the author. His brogue seemed to fit the material perfectly. It was honestly difficult not to listen to the whole book in one sitting. Moderation is a virtue, however.

All in all, I give it two thumbs up!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ernie Z. Wood
  • 2019-05-29

read and listen too

I read the book and enjoyed it very much. my interest in CBT was assisted greatly by the comparison to it's beginning, Stoic Philosophy.
next I listened on Audible, and gained even more insight into myself and psychotherapy.

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  • Lucy Herndon
  • 2019-05-15

A superb book on Stoicism!

This is a fascinating and book for anybody interested in learning more about Stoicism and improving their life and their character. It is full of techniques to help deal with anxiety, chronic pain, grief and the end of life. It is written in a very compelling style, weaving together the teachings of Stoicism with fascinating details about Marcus Aurelius and his precarious life as a Roman Emperor and modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The author, Donald Robertson, with his lovely Scottish accent reads the book beautifully. I heartily recommend this book for everyone!

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  • George smith
  • 2019-05-08

Outstanding

I count this book in the top 5 of Stoic teaching. Part history and Method, it combines the two beautifully. The narrator compliments the content exceptionally well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful