100 books like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Edward Gibbon,

Here are 100 books that The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire fans have personally recommended if you like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life

Morgan Wade Author Of The Last Stoic

From my list on Stoicism and ancient Rome.

Who am I?

I received my first introduction to the Stoics when completing a Master’s in Philosophy. It was enough to spark a life-long interest. Later in life I read Stoicism widely, along with classical history, including Gibbon and Durant. What struck me about Gibbon’s work was how the ancient “golden age,” with the enlightened rule of its “five good emperors,” including Marcus Aurelius, closely mirrored the trajectory of the contemporary American empire. Today, pundits sometimes casually refer to the US as a reincarnation of the Roman Empire. They talk of Pax Americana, imperial presidencies, and American exceptionalism. I wondered how far one could take that idea and this led me to begin work on The Last Stoic.

Morgan's book list on Stoicism and ancient Rome

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

Another Stoic classic. Written, again, in a highly accessible, conversational style. In fact, the only teachings by Epictetus that we know of today were recorded from his lectures by his disciple Arrian.  This book has given great solace to many people over the years. It is said that Frederick the Great never campaigned without it. And, the war hero Admiral James Stockdale credits Epictetus with helping him endure seven and a half years in a North Vietnamese military prison—including torture—and four years in solitary confinement. “No man is free who is not master of himself.”

By A.A. Long,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Epictetus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The philosophy of Epictetus, a freed slave in the Roman Empire, has been profoundly influential on Western thought: it offers not only stimulating ideas but practical guidance in living one's life. A. A. Long, a leading scholar of later ancient philosophy, gives the definitive presentation of the thought of Epictetus for a broad readership. Long's fresh and vivid translations of a selection of the best of Epictetus' discourses show that his ideas are as valuable and
striking today as they were amost two thousand years ago. The translations are organized thematically within the framework of an authoritative introduction and commentary,…


Book cover of Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from Their Beginnings to Ad 325

Morgan Wade Author Of The Last Stoic

From my list on Stoicism and ancient Rome.

Who am I?

I received my first introduction to the Stoics when completing a Master’s in Philosophy. It was enough to spark a life-long interest. Later in life I read Stoicism widely, along with classical history, including Gibbon and Durant. What struck me about Gibbon’s work was how the ancient “golden age,” with the enlightened rule of its “five good emperors,” including Marcus Aurelius, closely mirrored the trajectory of the contemporary American empire. Today, pundits sometimes casually refer to the US as a reincarnation of the Roman Empire. They talk of Pax Americana, imperial presidencies, and American exceptionalism. I wondered how far one could take that idea and this led me to begin work on The Last Stoic.

Morgan's book list on Stoicism and ancient Rome

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

For anyone interested in the broad sweep of world history, Durant’s Story of Civilization is a must-read. The scope of the work is simply breathtaking, extending from the dawn of human civilization to the end of the Napoleonic era. And Durant somehow manages to bring all the countless threads together and into context in an accessible manner. From Gibbon I turned to Durant for a more general view. In the volume Caesar to Christ, the similarities between the American and ancient Roman empires are made even starker. For instance, he writes, “the Roman patriciate and upper-middle class passed with impressive speed from stoic simplicity to reckless luxury.” Gibbon echoes the same sentiments in the first volume of the Decline and Fall

By Will Durant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Caesar and Christ as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this massive book ,whose scope and wit recall the golden days of historical writing,Will Durant recounts the flaming pageant of the rise of Rome from a crossroads town to mastery of the world.He tells of its achievements from the Crimea to Gibraltar and from the Euphrates to Hadrian's wall,of its spread of classic civilization over the Mediterranean and western European world.


Book cover of Meditations

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Who am I?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Leaders should develop a philosophy of life—a north star that will guide them through difficult times. This timeless classic by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius provides a combination of wisdom and practical advice that serves as a reference both for those in a leadership position and for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their daily lives. Here is a sample: “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Meditations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Penguin Great Ideas edition of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161-180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice-on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others-have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen…


Book cover of A Man in Full

Cara Bertoia Author Of The Perfect Breasts

From my list on showing life in the big city isn’t all glitz and glam.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I grew up in a very crowded house in suburbia with three sisters. Reading was the best way to escape all the mayhem. By the age of eight I was reading my parents’ novels, whatever books I could find. I wanted to move to a big city like the ones in their novels. At night I would tell myself Cinderella-type stories where I lived in a fabulous apartment and got to be the heroine. I took a class at Harvard Extension, and the professor read my story aloud to the group. From that day on I was hooked.

Cara's book list on showing life in the big city isn’t all glitz and glam

Cara Bertoia Why did Cara love this book?

I lived in Atlanta for a while and this is a great novel about the New South. Reading this novel is like taking a master class in real estate investing.

As with every Tom Wolfe novel it is a huge sprawling book that explores where all classes and races that inhabit a huge city intersect. Charles Croker a prosperous real estate investor is deeply in debt but that doesn’t stop the demands of his much younger trophy wife. Race relations are shattered when Fareek Fanon a star running back for a local college is accused of raping a girl from a prominent family.

Wolfe’s attention to detail paints a full picture of a city in the midst of change. 

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Man in Full as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dissection of greed-obsessed America a decade after The Bonfire of the Vanities and on the cusp of the millennium, from the master chronicler of American culture Tom Wolfe

Charlie Croker, once a fabled college football star, is now a late-middle-aged Atlanta real estate entrepreneur-turned conglomerate king. His expansionist ambitions and outsize ego have at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 28,000 acre quail shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife and a half-empty downtown tower with a staggering load of debt. Wolfe shows us contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made…


Book cover of Dune

Mark Joyner Author Of Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

From my list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi.

Who am I?

I'm an author, inventor, military veteran, (mostly) self-taught scholar, and an entrepreneur. Every internet-connected person interacts with things I invented (the tracking pixel, the ebook, etc) every day, but I'm best known for my books about business and personal development. As I write this, I'm serving as the Founder and CEO of a software platform called "Simpleology." It's designed to solve what I think is one of mankind's greatest threats to survival as a species:  "The Complexity Gap." It's the gap between the amount of information in the world and our ability to navigate it. It solves this by guiding you to focus on what we call "HIME" (high impact, minimal effort).

Mark's book list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi

Mark Joyner Why did Mark love this book?

This book presents perhaps the most prescient and today-relevant sci-fi premise ever: how could technology evolve without thinking machines?

After reading this book, I finally understood that my thinking does not have to be constrained by the "scientific consensus" of the day. The book presents a future so radically different from what most futurists are envisioning that it not only freed my thinking about science and futurism...it freed my mind of all constraints.

Even further, it beckoned me to explore the limits of my own human potential.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

51 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…


Book cover of From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life

Steven D. Smith Author Of The Disintegrating Conscience and the Decline of Modernity

From my list on why Western civilization is falling apart.

Who am I?

I’m a misplaced law professor, you might say: I never wanted to be a lawyer; I went to law school almost by accident; and for four decades I’ve used law as a window into my deeper interests– religion, history, and philosophy. I couldn’t make myself write books unless the subjects were personally engaging; and in defiance of editors, I insist on writing readable prose. If this adds up to “dilettante,” so be it. My books, published by the university presses of Harvard, Oxford, Notre Dame, Duke, and NYU, as well as Eerdmans, have dealt with constitutional law; Roman, medieval, and modern history; legal philosophy; and religious freedom.

Steven's book list on why Western civilization is falling apart

Steven D. Smith Why did Steven love this book?

Barzun, who lived to be 104, was in his lifetime possibly the most erudite human being on the planet. 

And this book, published when he was much younger (as a spry 93-year-old) is an almost perfect history of the modern age: a superb, readable sort-of survey that is not surveyish but rather earnestly engaged with themes that were important in the 16th-century beginnings of our modern civilization and are important still. 

Barzun doesn’t seem to be a gloomy naysayer, and he admires and appreciates the achievements of Western civilization; but as his title suggests, he came to believe that the culture is exhausted and unraveling. An informative and provocative read!

By Jacques Barzun,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked From Dawn to Decadence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A stunning five-century study of civilization's cultural retreat."  — William Safire, New York Times

Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500.

Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaissance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have…


Book cover of Foundation

Mark Joyner Author Of Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

From my list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi.

Who am I?

I'm an author, inventor, military veteran, (mostly) self-taught scholar, and an entrepreneur. Every internet-connected person interacts with things I invented (the tracking pixel, the ebook, etc) every day, but I'm best known for my books about business and personal development. As I write this, I'm serving as the Founder and CEO of a software platform called "Simpleology." It's designed to solve what I think is one of mankind's greatest threats to survival as a species:  "The Complexity Gap." It's the gap between the amount of information in the world and our ability to navigate it. It solves this by guiding you to focus on what we call "HIME" (high impact, minimal effort).

Mark's book list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi

Mark Joyner Why did Mark love this book?

While it is best known for being the first book to introduce the concept of a "galactic empire," the real juice comes from the gradual revelation of a profound thesis: Epistemology and Persuasion Science are the most important academic disciplines of all. 

This was the inspiration for my own journey into those two fields and led to my career in Military Intelligence.

While these explorations are ultimately liberating, this liberation does not come without a cost. I found myself truly in the dilemma of Plato's Allegory of the Cave: I had to accept both the obligation to free minds and the social strife that comes with choosing that path.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Foundation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series

THE EPIC SAGA THAT INSPIRED THE APPLE TV+ SERIES FOUNDATION, NOW STREAMING • Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
 
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings…


Book cover of War World: Discovery

Eric Thomson Author Of Imperial Sunset

From my list on the rise, fall, and rebirth of galactic empires.

Who am I?

Science fiction has always been a passion of mine and, paradoxically, so has history. I lost count long ago of how many historical treatises and historical fiction books I’ve read alongside the science fiction classics, especially those with a military flavor. I was also an Army officer, both regular and reserve, for most of my adult life, and gleefully tore through the recommended Army reading list, much of which focused on military history. Combining my interest in history with my military experience and my love for science fiction led me to create a future universe where empires rise, grow old, and collapse only to be reborn and repeat the cycle.

Eric's book list on the rise, fall, and rebirth of galactic empires

Eric Thomson Why did Eric love this book?

The War World series of novels, novellas, and short stories drew me in because they represent a microcosm of what happens when a civilization crashes in an inhospitable environment. I’ve been an avid fan of Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominium universe ever since reading West of Honor and seeing how it evolved for good and for bad through the War World lens, as developed by a long list of fantastic authors, kept intriguing me for years. Many of the concepts developed throughout the series had a marked influence on my own worldbuilding, and for that, it will always have a special place in my pantheon of books.

By John F. Carr (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

War World: Discovery, edited by John F. Carr, is the 9th book in the on-going War World Saga, which includes 3 novels, the most recent being War World: The Battle of Sauron by John F. Carr & Donald Hawthorne published in 2008. The War World series is a shared-world universe created by Jerry E. Pournelle & John F. Carr and is set in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium/Empire of Man future history. The moon Haven contains the harshest environments for life among the seventy habitable planets within the CoDominium sphere. After Haven's discovery, this distant moon quickly becomes the center of a…


Book cover of The Forge (The Raj Whitehall Series: The General, Book 1)

Eric Thomson Author Of Imperial Sunset

From my list on the rise, fall, and rebirth of galactic empires.

Who am I?

Science fiction has always been a passion of mine and, paradoxically, so has history. I lost count long ago of how many historical treatises and historical fiction books I’ve read alongside the science fiction classics, especially those with a military flavor. I was also an Army officer, both regular and reserve, for most of my adult life, and gleefully tore through the recommended Army reading list, much of which focused on military history. Combining my interest in history with my military experience and my love for science fiction led me to create a future universe where empires rise, grow old, and collapse only to be reborn and repeat the cycle.

Eric's book list on the rise, fall, and rebirth of galactic empires

Eric Thomson Why did Eric love this book?

This series, to my mind, epitomizes the idea of a gradual rebirth after a galactic civilization collapses, leaving humans stranded on countless worlds with varying degrees of technology. I found the way in which Drake approaches said rebirth incredibly fascinating as well as entertaining, by using sentient artifacts of the long-vanished empire to guide humans back to the stars. And, as a dog lover, I really enjoyed him using oversized canines instead of horses for his pre-industrial cavalry.

Book cover of Love in the Ruins

Steven D. Smith Author Of The Disintegrating Conscience and the Decline of Modernity

From my list on why Western civilization is falling apart.

Who am I?

I’m a misplaced law professor, you might say: I never wanted to be a lawyer; I went to law school almost by accident; and for four decades I’ve used law as a window into my deeper interests– religion, history, and philosophy. I couldn’t make myself write books unless the subjects were personally engaging; and in defiance of editors, I insist on writing readable prose. If this adds up to “dilettante,” so be it. My books, published by the university presses of Harvard, Oxford, Notre Dame, Duke, and NYU, as well as Eerdmans, have dealt with constitutional law; Roman, medieval, and modern history; legal philosophy; and religious freedom.

Steven's book list on why Western civilization is falling apart

Steven D. Smith Why did Steven love this book?

I don’t read many novels – my work doesn’t leave me much time – but I’ve had to make time for Percy.

His novels are full of intriguing characters, vivid and natural dialogue, and masterfully controlled plots; and in both his fiction and his essays and interviews he offers a trenchant diagnosis of the ills of modern life. Love in the Ruins is borderline sci-fi and quasi-apocalyptic.

Its protagonist, Tom More (a proud if decadent descendant of Sir and Saint Thomas More) lives in an American society much like our own, which is on the verge of collapse even though most of its residents don’t perceive the problem. The book is at the same time compelling, profoundly insightful, and hilarious.

By Walker Percy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Love in the Ruins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pair of profound dystopian novels from the “brilliantly breathtaking” New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of The Moviegoer (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Winner of the National Book Award for The Moviegoer, the “dazzlingly gifted” Southern philosophical author Walker Percy wrote two vividly imagined satirical novels of America’s future featuring deeply flawed psychiatrist and spiritual seeker Tom More (USA Today). Love in the Ruins is “a great adventure . . . so outrageous and so real, one is left speechless” (Chicago Sun-Times), and its sequel The Thanatos Syndrome “shimmers with intelligence and verve” (Newsday).
 
Love in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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