Cato, history's most famous foe of authoritarian power, was the pivotal political man of Rome; an inspiration to our Founding Fathers; and a cautionary figure for our times. He loved Roman republicanism, but saw himself as too principled for the mere politics that might have saved it. His life and lessons are urgently relevant in the harshly divided Americaand worldof today. With erudition and verve, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni turn their life of Cato into the most modern of biographies, a blend of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Game Change.Howard Fineman, Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Media Group, NBC and MSNBC News Analyst, and New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteen American Arguments A truly outstanding piece of work. What most impresses me is the book's ability to reach through the confusing dynastic politics of the late Roman Republic to present social realities in a way intelligible to the modern reader. Rome's Last Citizen entertainingly restores to life the stoic Roman who inspired George Washington, Patrick Henry and Nathan Hale. This is more than a biography: it is a study of how a reputation lasted through the centuries from the end of one republic to the start of another.David Frum, DailyBeast columnist, former White House speech writer, and New York Times bestselling author of The Right ManMarcus Porcius Cato: aristocrat who walked barefoot and slept on the ground with his troops, political heavyweight who cultivated the image of a Stoic philosopher, a hardnosed defender of tradition who presented himself as a man out of the sacred Roman pastand the last man standing when Romes Republic fell to tyranny. His blood feud with Caesar began in the chamber of the Senate, played out on the battlefields of a world war, and ended when he took his own life rather than live under a dictator.Centuries of thinkers, writers, and artists have drawn inspiration from Catos Stoic courage. Saint Augustine and the early Christians were moved and challenged by his example. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, chose Cato to preside over the souls who arrive in Purgatory. George Washington so revered him that he staged a play on Catos life to revive the spirit of his troops at Valley Forge. Now, in Romes Last Citizen, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni deliver the first modern biography of this stirring figure.Catos life is a gripping tale that resonates deeply with our own turbulent times. He grappled with terrorists, a debt crisis, endemic political corruption, and a huge gulf between the elites and those they governed. In many ways, Cato was the ultimate man of principlehe even chose suicide rather than be used by Caesar as a political pawn. But Cato was also a political failure: his stubbornness sealed his and Romes defeat, and his lonely end casts a shadow on the recurring hope that a singular leader can transcend the dirty business of politics.Romes Last Citizen is a timeless story of an uncompromising man in a time of crisis and his lifelong battle to save the Republic.
Brave, self-sacrificing, and successful as a military commander, the great Roman statesman Cato (95-46 B.C.E.) also engaged in all-night drinking bouts and served as the public face of Stoicism-a philosophy regarded as contrary to Roman identity in his time. He is perhaps most famous for committing suicide rather than serve Caesar and betray his beloved Republic. In their sometimes compelling but more frequently lackluster biography, Goodman (a former Capitol Hill speechwriter) and Soni (the Huffington Post's managing editor) use the very few sources we have to trace Cato's life, from his early military service and his attempts to curtail electoral bribery in 54 B.C.E. to his scandalous divorce from and remarriage to Marcia, and his suicide. Cato's vision for the Republic, say the authors, rested on the myth of a simpler and purer past. Cato failed to restore that past, however, for he possessed a shallow view of the present. Besides their lackluster prose, Goodman and Soni aren't fully convincing in their effort to show either that Cato, rather than Pompey, was Caesar's true nemesis, or that Cato's legacy is instructive for our times. Agent: Laura Yorke, Carol Mann Agency. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Thomas Dunne Books
October 16, 2012
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