Sunday, 9 April 2017

Robert Harris, 'Imperium'

This is a cracker of a read, as Robert Harris always is. A political thriller, and a courtroom drama, and while there are crucifixions and other kinds of torture aplenty, Cicero (for it is he the hero) does not perpetrate or get involved in any of them. Ancient Rome was bloody, but Cicero changed the world with words, and wit, and the lowest of cunning. This book, the first of a trilogy I am eager to finish reading, has been called "Labour in togas" and it's easy to see why. For anyone who was around the Palace of Westminster during the Blair years the parallels are unmistakable, and perhaps reveal more about Harris than he would like to have revealed. "If you find yourself stuck in politics, the thing to do is start a fight - start a fight, even if you do not know how you are going to win it, because it is only when a fight is on, and everything is in motion, that you can hope to see your way through."

Rather fun on political hatreds, too. There have always been politicians who simply hate each other. Of whichever politician it was said "He is his own worst enemy" and of whichever politician it was said that he replied "Not while I'm alive, he isn't" - well, that has been around down the ages, and still is today. In this he gives the lie to the Stoics, of whom Cicero, it seems, was a fan. I certainly am. Epictetus, my hero.

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