DEATH OF A REPUBLIC by John Dickinson


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The history of human government,"" as George Lee Haskins remarks in his introduction to this acute analysis of a perennial subject, ""has but little to record of free popular government...One of the few examples of stable democratic government until modern times is that of Rome at the height of the republic period."" The main focus here is upon the ""process of destruction"" which brought about the fall from that height, a process ""extending over approximately one hundred years, from 133 B.C. to 31 B.C.,"" but especially ""crucial...between 59 B.C., when Julius Caesar became consul, and 44 B.C., when he was assassinated."" The book proper is divided into two parts: ""The Course of Destruction"" and ""Rival Philosophies of Government""; the latter devoted to a lengthy and deep probe of Caesar (""the Instrumentalist"") and his counterpart Cicero (""the Institutionalist""). The villain of the piece is of course Caesar, whose ""deliberate destruction of republican institutions...and substitution of the personal rule of a single man brought into high relief...the age-old question of whether men are to be ruled by law or by arbitrarty will"". John Dickinson's command of the material, his ability to organize it, and his fresh thoughts on old themes are all most impressive, but his scholarship will, despite and because of its mastery, discourage all but the hardiest of unspecialized readers. Which is a pity, because there is so much here of immediate relevance to contemporary trends.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1963
Publisher: Macmillan