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  • The Fate of Rome

  • Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire
  • Written by: Kyle Harper
  • Narrated by: Andrew Garman
  • Length: 15 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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The Fate of Rome

Written by: Kyle Harper
Narrated by: Andrew Garman
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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease helped bring down the Roman Empire

Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome's power - a story of nature's triumph over human ambition.

Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. He takes listeners from Rome's pinnacle in the second century, when the empire seemed an invincible superpower, to its unraveling by the seventh century, when Rome was politically fragmented and materially depleted. Harper describes how the Romans were resilient in the face of enormous environmental stress, until the besieged empire could no longer withstand the combined challenges of a "little ice age" and recurrent outbreaks of bubonic plague.

A poignant reflection on humanity's intimate relationship with the environment, The Fate of Rome provides a sweeping account of how one of history's greatest civilizations encountered, endured, yet ultimately succumbed to the cumulative burden of nature's violence. The example of Rome is a timely reminder that climate change and germ evolution have shaped the world we inhabit - in ways that are surprising and profound.

Author bio: Kyle Harper is professor of classics and letters and senior vice president and provost at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425 and From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

©2017 Princeton University Press (P)2017 Recorded Books

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One of the best, most original books on the decline of Roman Power.

This is an absolutely extraordinary book. I have been reading about Rome for most of my adult life. Harper’s book nonetheless continually surprised and even shocked me. His erudition is overwhelming, his research is formidable and his style is approachable and reader friendly. I can not recommend this book highly enough. If you think you know your Roman history - guess again and prepare to be amazed.

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Highly recommended, gripping, well researched.

This book is more like a who done it.
I couldn't put it down. The discussion of the latest scientific techniques give authority to Dr. Harpers conclusions. Not just the historical vagaries of the climate, but the detailed descriptions of pandemic waves flesh out a compelling narrative. Please make his other books available.

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