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Publisher's Summary

In Empires of Trust, Professor Thomas F. Madden explores surprising parallels between the Roman and American republics.

By making friends of enemies and demonstrating a commitment to fairness, the two republics - both "reluctant" yet unquestioned super-powers - built empires based on trust. Madden also includes vital lessons from the Roman Republic's 100-year struggle with "terrorism."

©2008 Thomas F. Madden (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC

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  • Overall

A real eye opener

Before this book, I had many uninformed notions on Rome based on the movies and TV shows that only served to expand my ignorance. This book changed all that. I am amazed at the similarities between the first several hundred years of Rome, when it was a republic, and the United States up to this point. I am surprised at the changes (not always good) that come with an overall peace, and I was greatly interested at the relationship between Rome and Greece (much like our relationship -or obsession- with Western Europe).

As one who does not practice western religion, I found his coverage of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to be very even handed... That is to say that this book will make them all either have a hard and logical internal look at themselves (not likely), or to have a purely emotional response and write the book off as tripe because it hurts their sensibilities (yeah, probably this).

It also weighs in against conservatives and liberals fairly equally. I am a relatively conservative person and had to take several moments to step back and digest the point of the discussion without letting my personal biases get in the way. Then the book was incredibly informative.

The writer writes in a very conversational tone that is easy to digest because it really connects with the listener. And the narrator fits the content perfectly.

Whoever you are, parts of this book are going to upset you. But if you can get past that and look at the information presented objectively, this is an excellent choice.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting but too myopic

I found the premise of this book interesting and I agree with many of its concepts to varying degrees. However, I found the analysis of the expansion of the Roman empire to be far too simplistic and uniform - especially coming from such a scholarly writer - and the relentless comparison of the Roman and American spheres of influence as Empires of Trust reaches the point of monotony. In particular, the idea that the Romans were reluctant empire-builders is dubious at best - certainly not the consensus viewpoint of ancient scholars. Of particular interest, nevertheless, are the following: (1) the comparison of American and Roman morality and religious values (2) the comparison of Rome's relationship to to the Old World (Greece) to America's relationship with the Old World (Europe) and (3) the comparison of America's struggle against radical Muslim fundamentalism to Rome's war against radical Zionists. Whether or not one agrees with Prof. Madden's conclusions, this book is worth consideration.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Provocative comparison, Rome vs US circumstances

Madden's portrayal of early Rome sometimes takes on a Normal Rockwell quality. Rome was, aw shucks, just some well meaning guys who were dragged into building an empire when they really just wanted to stay at home and remodel the living room.

If you can get past the whitewash, the book provides and interesting walk through Rome's early history. The political science treatment of Rome's development is a refreshing break from dull recitation of chronological events that comprises most history books.

Madden steps on plenty of toes. He s an equal opportunity offender, providing analysis and opinions that give nearly everyone an opportunity for righteous indignation. But thats what makes it genuinely interesting and thought provoking.

If you like history, political science, current events, AND if you can enjoy reading a work that is going to challenge your political orthodoxy, then you'll probably like this book.

If you find yourself shouting at Fox news commentators on TV, then you might give this a pass, take a xanax and read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (actually if you read Decline and Fall, you won't need the Xanax..zzzz..)

Gripe: Annoying and repeating grammar mistakes in pluralization. Maybe its GW Bush's influence on the evolution of grammar..... "is the children learnin' "

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Adrian
  • Ladera Ranch, CA, USA
  • 07-10-09

Good history lesson

This book has excellent discussions of comparison and contrast between Rome and the USA. Gives some history and insight into the nature of Empires and the uniqueness between Rome and the USA. Absolutely a MUST for anyone's library!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very Relevant to Modern Events in the Middle East

The author is a bit repetitive in the beginning establishing both his definition of an "Empire of Trust" and his thesis that much of ancient Roman and modern American history can be evaluated usefully in that context. Don't let the initial repetition get to you though. This starts off being a fascinating history of the Roman Empire that then begins to draw parallels to just how much our own government has been shaped by the same core principles and similar circumstances.

Even more interesting however are the last few chapters that show how the lessons learned by the Romans in their dealings with terrorism and strife in the Middle East are very much applicable today.

This isn't dry history; Madden writes in a very accessible style that is complemented well by reader Richard Poe. I was listening to this book while driving mostly and I was always disappointed to arrive at my destination and have to turn the book off.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenneth
  • LEESBURG, VA, United States
  • 12-02-12

My Pick, Book of the Year 2012

This book presents a theory of American exceptionalism. The exceptional thing about the book is that it’s the only theory of American Exceptionalism I've ever heard that is actually deep and thoughtful and has something important to say.

My summary of his theory is:

American exceptionalism is derivative from Roman exceptionalism. Over the last 2,000 years most chances at new governance have attempted to model the Roman republic. The difference is that the American founding fathers, unlike most revolutionaries, were quite educated. They spoke Latin and actually knew enough to have an approximately accurate understanding of Roman exceptionalism.

An interesting issue is that modern readers probably know far less about the Romans than John Adams. In fact, according to the author the modern pop culture story about the Romans is almost exactly the opposite of reality. He’s somewhat vague on why this is; ratings are part of the answer. He suggests that the long life of Greek propaganda about the Romans may also be a factor, or not.

In the end it doesn't matter if Joe Plumber understands that the things that make America great are linked to Rome. But it does matter that we not lose the values that made us great.

So which specific values does the author think lead to American exceptionalism. Read the book. But my observation on his list is that it’s everything and anything that is orthogonal to the left-right debate that dominates current American Politics.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • A
  • Summerville, SC, United States
  • 02-10-10

required reading

Awesome book, great survey of history and a reminder of how great and educated our founding fathers were.

Narration is terrific.

I liked this book so much that I bought 15 hard copies and gave them to the most influential people I know.

Understanding the concepts in this book (whether you agree or not) is a prerequisite to debating the relevant issues of today.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I see some who are anti this book. Pay no attention. The wealth of history, the correlation of Rome and the Americans is obvious to those who are able to see the world as it is and not the way you want it to be. If you are a person who lives their life by the way you want it to be but not by how it is, you will not like this book. Hard truths are told. I agree with them and I can take it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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excellent in every way

great narration.
excellent story.
wonderfully presented.

Any history buff who sees similarities between Rome and the U.S. should read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • 01-23-15


This is a must read for anyone interested in the realities of how our world works. A great example of the old "The more things change the more they stay the same" rule. The section near the end of comparing the Romans fighting the Jews and the Americans fighting the Islamic fundamentalists was spot on.

Too bad not enough people in the Obama administration read this book before they decided to pull out of Iraq. They merely put off what will be inevitable and lost a lot of lives to boot.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful