10 books like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Edward Gibbon,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Epictetus

By A.A. Long,

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

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.”

Epictetus

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,…


Caesar and Christ

By Will Durant,

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

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

Caesar and Christ

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.


Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Book cover of Meditations

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.”

Meditations

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…


A Man in Full

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of A Man in Full

Read this – or anything by Wolfe, the writer who has had the most influence on me. Why? Because Tom Wolfe was what I aspire to be, a joyful explainer. He dropped himself into worlds he knew nothing about and let their most engaged players just talk. He came back with deep-inside tours of lives we would otherwise never know. In The Molecule of More, my co-author Dan Lieberman (one of the great psychiatric minds in America, I say) gave me a thrilling tour of neuroscience, leveraging my own interests as a playwright and a trained physicist so we could combine our knowledges into something that first passed the test of fascinating us as old friends. Wolfe does all that by himself, and magnificently in this tour of 1990s America.

A Man in Full

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

2 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…


Dune

By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Dune is a sci-fi story that really makes you think in the abstract and it poses a lot of deep questions about leadership. While Dune is a tough read with strange protagonists, its worldbuilding is what sucks you because it’s so richly detailed. It’s an immersive book, and I consider it the sci-fi equivalent of Lord of the Rings for setting the standard for sweeping space operas. I read Dune before self-publishing my most recent book, and it made me want to retool the way resource control worked in my book’s universe.

Dune

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

41 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…


Foundation

By Isaac Asimov,

Book cover of Foundation

Foundation was inspired by Gibbons’ History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and it shows. The series spans millennia, with dark ages and rediscoveries, civilization versus barbarism and naked imperial aggression. Asimov was not the first writer to create a “future history” (Olaf Stapledon’s Starmaker predates it by more than a decade) but he certainly brought the concept to popular consciousness. Thought-provoking and dizzying in scope, Foundation remains a bedrock of modern science fiction. 

Foundation

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

7 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…


War World

By John F. Carr (editor),

Book cover of War World: Discovery

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.

War World

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…


The Forge (The Raj Whitehall Series

By S.M. Stirling, David Drake,

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

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.

The Forge (The Raj Whitehall Series

By S.M. Stirling, David Drake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Forge (The Raj Whitehall Series as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forge (The General 1)


Travel in the Ancient World

By Lionel Casson,

Book cover of Travel in the Ancient World

Anybody who studies travel in ancient Rome knows the name of Lionel Casson, and after reading his magnum opus, you will understand why. Reading his book makes me feel that I am taking a tour of the Roman world in all its glory: its diversity, its impressive infrastructure, its cultural highlights, and its religious pilgrimage sites. Travel could be exciting or dangerous, luxurious or barebones, for business or for pleasure. In Casson’s engaging and accessible prose, however, it is always a revelatory window into Roman culture and history. Casson’s book helped me understand the personal, emotional aspects of travel in ancient Rome and, consequently, made me feel closer to ancient Romans themselves.

Travel in the Ancient World

By Lionel Casson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The only book of its kind in any language, Travel in the Ancient World offers a lively, comprehensive history of ancient travel, from the first Egyptian voyages recorded in Old Kingdom inscriptions through Greek and Roman times to the Christian pilgrimages of the fourth and sixth centuries. Rich in anecdote and colorful detail, it now returns to print in paperback with a new preface by the author.


Roman Passions

By Ray Laurence,

Book cover of Roman Passions: A History of Pleasure in Imperial Rome

Ray Laurence begins this wonderful book with the bold view that the passions of first-century Rome were more developed than those of earlier times. Examining the connections between pleasure and power in the imperial household; the role pleasure played in art and landscape; and what really went on in the Roman baths, the resulting account is as wide-ranging as it is surprising.

Roman Passions

By Ray Laurence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Immerse yourself in the sensual delights of Rome in all their guises. By the time of the emperors, the Romans had created the world's first global empire, and plundered the provinces for produce to be eaten, planted or displayed as novelties. At the same time the aesthetics of the city of Rome was being transferred to the provinces, establishing towns with public buildings, baths and the Latin language. With these attributes of civilisation came other trappings of Roman culture: lavish entertainments, elaborate dinner parties and vice. The world of pleasure became a defining feature of the Romans, and this book…


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