The Roman Empire’s reputation precedes it: a wingspan that stretched from Syria to Spain, and from the Nile to Scotland’s doorstep. Centuries of unbroken rule, a unified commonwealth, and at one point nearly a quarter of the world’s population. And then, it all came tumbling down. Why Rome fell has been a favored subject of armchair theorizing pretty much since the empire started teetering—and now, one historian has a bold new idea. Kyle Harper joins us on the podcast to explore how climate change and disease might have played a key role in the fall of an entire civilization.
Go beyond the episode:
- Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire
- Read an excerpt from the book on how the Huns laid waste to the Eternal City
- How we can learn from Rome’s experience with epidemics to contend with emerging diseases today
- Pandemics should scare you: here’s how tropical diseases are on the rise in our own back yard
Tune in every two weeks to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.