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Owing to the Roman Empires longevity and vast nature amongst other marvelous factors, the subject has been able to attract big numbers of writers commenting on the same issue. Although most of the work put down by most writers deserves a great deal of applause, it has since emerged that many writers have given biased emphasis to the clause stating its decline as opposed to the various factors that led to its lengthy existence. The empire covered the regions of southern Egypt all the way to Southern Scotland together with the plains surrounding the Euphrates River and towards the Atlantic. This was a remarkable piece of land to govern, considering the era in which it existed, but it was somehow possible thanks to good organization and a proficient Army and Navy service of close to half a million.
Apart from the pieces of work on the fall of the empire as Depicted by many writers, Chester, G. Starr stands out with his work trying to paint a different and more precise picture. In his book The Roman Empire, 27 B.C. - A.D. 476: A Study in Survival, it quite evident that Starr goes deeper into the subject that others never dared to tackle and the outcome is a substantial account of the issues and facts that influenced the survival of the Roman Empire for over a half of a millennium. As evidenced in most of his works, Starr is definitely a great writer who has over the years been known for his complete sense of transparency in his works. As a renowned historian and a highly respected professor of history at the University of Michigan, stakes become higher in terms of expecting quality scholarly material from him.
Starr's book is definitely a masterpiece and can be recommended for any student who is particularly being introduced to Roman history for the first time. It is also effective for more advanced lessons of Roman history thanks to its clarity and interesting nature. As one commences his journey into the ordeals discussed in Starr's book, the author clearly reveals to the reader that the endurance shown by the empire's stint of 500 years was amazing and nearly unworkable. This was due to several factors that included limited technology and the area covered by the empire. Technology remained the greatest hindrance and according to Starr holding together the vast empire was a great challenge as evidenced during the attacks by the Barbarians. Apart from the empire getting too big to be governed with ease, the fact that it was that big was an achievement in itself. Starr goes on with pointing out core challenges that resulted from communication barriers not only affecting the citizens of the empire but also the military in terms of relaying crucial information from one place to another. (p. 3). Rumors and unconfirmed news were therefore the order of the day thereby inducing greater confusion.
Moving further into the issue of supposed limitations for the empire Starr is quick to point out an economic dependency on agriculture that was bound to fail. The failure was due to the positioning of the empire on an unproductive piece of land yet agriculture constituted the backbone of their economy. This compelled many farmers to practice small scale farming and eventually make no economic impact in terms of supporting crucial elements like the military. As Starr continues his journey on (page 4), he is able to carefully introduce the issue of morals within the government and the people as well. Initially the population had developed a certain custom of justice for all and also practiced good faith. This was enhanced by believing in the set of laws and the good returns they got from the law. However, as aspects like invention of money and temptations of entrapping existent electoral methods crept in, the situation changed completely. Every man now acted by his desires and the leaders were not elected for specified terms but till their death. With these developments Starr notes the creeping of corrupt deals into the government and the beginning of inefficiency.
Displaying his maturity and unique visualization of the situation, Starr then embarks on describing the various factors that sustained the existence of the empire for 500 years in the first place. There were great improvements in the sectors of medicine and sanitation and also the public health and the water sector. Apart from its location in a poor farming area the road network was a force to reckon with. Travelling time was eventually reduced with the coming of a strong road network. On the other hand, the political system of the domain was facing constant deterioration in terms of efficiency but Starr is quick to notice that the system was the most ideal for supporting such a territory. The government was large enough to administer its authority on the empire and also applied flexible measures of governance across the empire. The availability of the strongest leaders like Augustus also contributed to the empire's success.
Such leaders ensured the materializing of certain useful techniques into the operations of the military and this further led to acquisition of additional land and resources related to them. These are some of the achievements that were noticeable through the eyes of the writer as opposed to other writers thanks to a wide range as research as seen in his cited works blended with his own prowess. Some of the sources incorporated in his works include the very primary sources most outstanding those written in Latin. (p. 53). Quotations from other sources including books and journals written by other history giants also add up to his magnificent piece of work.
Apart from Starr displaying a little bit of blemish like failing to clearly outline the functions of the co-emperors in his work, and also failing to clearly introduce prominent names that appear in his work, there is little doubt that the book is a big achiever. The book is designed to meet the needs of those seeking to learn the basics of roman history and its size and few pages makes it even more convenient and appealing. The Roman Empire, 27 B.C. - A.D. 476: A Study in Survival published by oxford university press (1982), was written for the purpose of precision but unfortunately for a certain group of readers it creates an impossible situation. This group of readers is mainly the casual type who has no patience of going through the sentence for the second time after they failed to grasp the whole concept on the first attempt. The complication is subject to the very long sentences that require an above average mind to interpret such as, "Augustus's proconsular imperium had duly been extended for five- or ten-year periods several times by the Senate, a formality which Tiberius must have observed on occasion; but when it came time, after the funeral of Augustus, for him to execute the scenario listed in step 2 above, matters went far less well than at the hands of the urbane, patient Augustus" as seen on (p. 40).
In conclusion the above sentiments imply that Starr's book is a masterpiece that requires plenty of time and careful scrutiny of the contents in order to digest the whole concept. For other readers who give it a casual approach my opinion is that this book can be of great help only when accompanying another person's work on the history of the Roman Empire. Those who take their time to read through it with a passion are therefore bound to reap knowledge in abundance from this well-thought book with a precise overview for all learners of roman history. The planning of the book is also done with careful thinking as seen in the many divisions and subdivisions describing various factors influencing the Empire's survival having the eventual flexibility of being accessed by the reader later on for intended information. Page (187) also gives more information and the various sources where relevant information can be traced. Starr therefore stands out as a great writer as clearly evidenced by this book.