Primarily a cultural history of Rome at its apogee (161-337 A.D.), Professor Grant, who recently retired as president of Queen's University in Belfast, specializes in this period (The World of Rome, Roman Literature, among others), shows it as a time of social and intellectual ferment and achievement among artists, architects, and engineers. The Empire was extended to Constantinople, and Rome was honored everywhere. Grant shows, however, that the Empire was ""a gloomy place for the majority,"" and he draws the expected parallels to the contemporary Pax Americana. He shows political, military, and economic conditions at a decadent phase, and though he is cursory in his treatment of these, and suggests that these aspects of Empire too are likely to be inherited by the United States. Occasionally Grant is over-cryptic, but for the most part he is simply adopt. Solid history, with incisive chapters on the intellectual and spiritual climate that should appeal to many citizens of the American Empire.