Book Review: Rome, Inc. by Stanley Bing

Entertaining, though not the place I would go to learn about either Roman history or business. Bing's premise, drawn from his subtitle, is that Rome was the 'first multinational corporation', just like the ones we see today only a little more honest about their use of power.

A little disclaimer here: Bing could have told me the Roman Empire was populated by ginger-bread men and ruled by the Blue Meanies and I'd have had no basis to disbelieve him. My knowledge of the Roman Empire consists mostly of Shakespeare's historical plays (not the easiest place for your average late-20th century educated Midwestern boy to get 'just the facts ma'am' either), movies, and a computer game called Caesar III. Add to that a little bit of the prequel in the form of the Iliad and the Aeneid, and there's my reference point (and probably lots of people's as well).

Following the city/empire from its mythical founding to its transformation into the Holy Roman Empire, Bing leaves the reader with the twin comforts of: 1) Things haven't changed all that much and 2) Where they have it's for the better (your CEO isn't plucking out your eyeballs no matter how insane he may seem to you). Much of the story centers around the founding twins (Romulus and Remus), Marius, Julius Caesar, and Augustus Caesar, though juicy tidbits about other rulers are tossed in for good measure with comparison to modern moguls.

My biggest complaint is that there is no bibliography or suggested reading - something the topic invites, especially for those of us not already steeped in the classics. To remedy that, in part, let me make my humble suggestions.

The Aeneid - Virgil
History - Livy
Twelve Caesars - Suetonius
Lives - Plutarch
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Gibbon
The Civil Wars - Julius Caesar