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Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

by Walter Scheidel
Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

by Walter Scheidel


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The gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world

The fall of the Roman Empire has long been considered one of the greatest disasters in history. But in this groundbreaking book, Walter Scheidel argues that Rome's dramatic collapse was actually the best thing that ever happened, clearing the path for Europe's economic rise and the creation of the modern age. Ranging across the entire premodern world, Escape from Rome offers new answers to some of the biggest questions in history: Why did the Roman Empire appear? Why did nothing like it ever return to Europe? And, above all, why did Europeans come to dominate the world? In an absorbing narrative that begins with ancient Rome but stretches far beyond it, from Byzantium to China and from Genghis Khan to Napoleon, Scheidel shows how the demise of Rome and the enduring failure of empire-building on European soil launched an economic transformation that changed the continent and ultimately the world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691216737
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/16/2021
Series: The Princeton Economic History of the Western World , #115
Pages: 704
Sales rank: 649,171
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. His many books include The Great Leveler (Princeton). Twitter @WalterScheidel

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction: The Great Escape 1

Part I The European Anomaly

1 Patterns of Empire 31

Part II Why Rome?

2 Core 51

3 Periphery 89

4 Counterfactuals 110

Part III Why Only Rome?

5 From Justinian to Frederick 127

6 From Genghis Khan to Napoleon 174

Part IV The First Great Divergence

7 From Convergence to Divergence 219

8 Nature 259

9 Culture 307

Part V From the First to the Second Great Divergence

10 Institutions 337

11 New Worlds 420

12 Understanding 472

Epilogue: What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? 503

Glossary 529

Technical Note to Chapter 533

Notes 537

References 603

Index 647

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"An outstanding, epic history of the fall of the Roman Empire and rise of the European West."—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Evening Standard

"A remarkable book."—Peter Brown, New York Review of Books

"Scheidel marshals his facts with verve and force."—Robert Colvile, The Times

"Makes a bracing case. . . . What did the Romans do for us? Scheidel does not give the usual answers."—Peter Stothard, Financial Times

"Escape from Rome deserves to be taken very seriously. . . . This is a fiercely intelligent, closely argued book."—Peter Thonemann, Times Literary Supplement

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