We were quite pleased when we discovered, some time ago, that Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates is a faithful reader of our author Vaclav Smil. The latest issue of Gates's newsletter is out and it has a review of one of Smil's Why America is Not a New Rome, a dismantling of oft-made comparisons between the two regimes. Here's a snippet of Gates's thoughts:
After reading so many articles and speeches predicting what will happen to America because of some supposed similarities to the Roman Empire, Smil felt it was important to explain that there is no predictive power in these comparisons. Smil is a great student of history, including Roman history and the dynamics of its Empire over time. Even though I took five years of Latin and enjoyed being able to understand some of the quotes in the book, my understanding of the Roman Empire was greatly expanded by reading this book.
He concludes that Smil has done "his normal, thorough, fact-driven logical job on this topic...I hope this book will help us focus on fixing these trends without thinking that analogies from the Roman Empire will help us find the right approach."
RTWT here. And we would be remiss if we didn't point out that Smil has an even more recent book out exploring the engineering innovations driving globalization. We'll hope for Gates's thoughts on that one down the line.