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Prof. Madden has an informal, natural way of presenting his lectures which makes them easy to listen to and absorb. His basic thesis is that the USA is in many ways a latter day Rome, as the founding fathers had planned. He freely admits various differences but the evidence he does put forward is quite compelling and revealing. Its the empires of these two states that he is referring to and he speaks of similar dynamics having informed their development.
Both states began with empires of trust rather than of conquest, in other words empires based on friendly alliances with other states who were seeking protection. In both cases their empires were started reluctantly as a defensive mechanism following attacks by outside aggressors, Gaul in the case of Rome, Japan in the case of America, but ended up being unrivalled superpowers. Of course, this reading of history conveniently overlooks the Mexican-American war, the Spanish-American war and the conquest of the Native American Indians.
Prof. Madden doesnt say much about economics, abhorrence of rival political systems, nor the influence of the military industrial complex, all of which are surely germane to the growth of the American empire. It would be interesting to know his views on these motivating factors. Were they shared by Rome? But the points he does make are convincing and illuminating. For instance, the countries fought & defeated by the US in WWII, notably Italy, Germany & Japan were not subsequently colonised. They were politically reformed and given generous assistance to recover. That is not the normal pattern in the long & painful history of wars fought by aggressive imperial powers.
Thomas Madden is one of the most knowledgeable historians in the world. All of his lecture series combine a thorough knowledge of history with an explanation of how events are interrelated. I have listened to almost all of his lectures and this one on Empires of Trust is his ultimate work in which he has helped me understand how and why America operates in the world today. Madden is also a good story teller and that made listening to this very important lecture series not only informative but enjoyable.
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I've always wanted to learn more about the Roman Empire and how it is similar to the U.S. This lecture series did a great job of explaining how we view ourselves from within and how the world views us.