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riley

riley

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The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion
Melvin Lerner

Exactly what you'd expect

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE Why Did it Collapse? - Donald (Editor) Kagan

This is an old sampler of theories about the decline of the Roman Empire that I think was part of a class my father took in university. It was assembled in 1962, but the first issue with it is that many of the books and articles it draws on were published significantly earlier. And though we've learned a lot since 1962 about how to "do" history, they no doubt had learned much between 1916 and 1962. And I mention this because some of the excerpts included are laughably unsophisticated and one of them is actually a racist "explanation" of how "blood mixing" caused the downfall. (You'll be happy to note that the authors quoted in the book who were aware of that theory can barely dignify it with criticism, even in the early decades of the 20th century, so that's something...)

Anyway, I guess this might work as a reasonable survey of the most common theories that existed in the first half of the 20th century. But as a survey of history, it doesn't hold up now.