What are recommended books about the Roman Empire? In particularly, I'm interested in how this vast empire was formed and how the rulers kept the empire intact for so long.
As off-topic as it might sound a great book is "The Making of the Roman Army". Because the military mirriored both the social and political climate of Rome itself I found it to be very informative not only with respect to the army itself but also in those areas that interest you specifically. I honestly picked it up strictly to learn about the Roman military and found myself understanding far more about the different stages of Roman society, political intrigue and economics than I had expected.
Thanks. I'll look it over on Amazon.
This the text you should purchas if you wish to seriously start thinking about the history of Rome:
This is the standard introductory text, and for good reason
This should be available at many college campus'. It is worth the price
The way the book sources,shows you primary, secondary, and archaelogical finds mixed the bibliography to help you spring board into special areas of interest are alone worth the price
"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann
"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence" - GLS Shackle
Did you actually read the book?
Yes I own it. I've probably read it 4 times including once last year. If you have any questions on it let me know
I think I have the last edition though
This deals more with the decline, but it might be of interest nonetheless.
Delbruck, Hans. The Barbarian Invasions.
Umm, books on the Latin language will explain tidbits of how and why the Romans were so successful at monopolizing trade and procedures. Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin by Nicholas Ostler explains how Latin took over the church (a big reason for the success of an empire is mind control) and trade routes. He also explains the use of language as a means of expansion of empire.
Latin started as one of the smallest languages in what is now Italy and because it was a trade hub of about 12 different languages it became the most useful for palaver. It was as useful, at least, for Rome.
The Church is the dominant force, I think. Early on it was the military, like every other city state, but the Roman Empire really came together with the expansion of the Church. After a while the bible was published in Latin and editions not in Latin were not recognized (as they could be interpreted differently)
There is a more recognizeable imperial aspect of Rome in that they were war-like and ignorant. The Greeks were far more proficient in mathematics, architecture, art, philosophy, etc., but the Romans still took them over and brought everything down to their peg. The Romans couldn't even make a human statue that would stand on their own two legs. They needed to put stumps and babies and things against one of the calves to keep them standing. The Romans thought they were so great because they were so bureaucratic, or "politcal," as Cicero says.
They let people keep their Greek and Hebrew (etc.) names. All they needed to do was have a Roman name as well that would be used by the government.
http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_history_of_rome/2009/07/index.html great free audio pod cast.rome morphed into something quit different from its beginnings you mite need to rethink the empire intact bit.i love these pod casts i think the speaker might be a bit of a mises fan with his understanding of sound money.