Over the past couple of months, I’ve been slowly making my way through Tom Holland’s Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic.

It’s a powerful reminder of Rome’s first fall — from the Republic into the Empire with the coming of Caesar and then Augustus.

And, naturally, it’s raised some tough questions, such as:

  • Is it possible to arrest the decay and division of a democratic society?
  • What happens when a superpower goes through a convulsion that utterly changes its internal governance yet does not reduce its external power?
  • Can a culture of striving avoid being strode over by generation upon generation of ambition?

The story of the fall of the Roman Republic is worth knowing — and contemplating. Rubicon is a pretty good one-volume telling, but it would probably be better as an audiobook. (Holland is a radio personality, and writes like it.)

Luckily, that’s where Dan Carlin’s Death Throes of the Republic series on his podcast, Hardcore History, comes in. A couple weeks’ worth of commutes will provide you with some excellent fodder to focus your mind for 2020.