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Books: THE NEW ROME: THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE AND THE FATE OF AMERICA by Cullen Murphy (Icon Books pounds 14.99).

Byline: GARY YOUNG

VERDICT: *****

I MUST admit my heart sank a little when I was offered this book to review.

Modern America as the new Rome - that old chestnut, I thought. But I gave the book a go, and I'm rather glad I did.

To be fair, Cullen Murphy, editor-at-large at the US magazine Vanity Fair, half-apologises in the introduction for revisiting such a tired metaphor.

But as he makes the case, the parallels between the two civilisations - ancient and modern - become increasingly apparent.

Moving beyond the issue of an overstretched military, he considers the blindingly-insular cultures of Washington and Rome, the battle for border control, and the weakening of accountability and democracy through the privatisation of state functions. Most incisively, he argues that America resembles Rome most clearly in the corruption of its government and the arrogant ignorance of the world outside its borders - weaknesses that proved fatal to Rome.

With a wealth of facts and figures at his fingertips, Murphy offers a compelling argument.

ALISON DAYANI
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 7, 2008
Words:168
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