1. In General, 2. By Episode

It is crazy to try to list the most useful books and articles on Rome: There are too many! I will thus make two abbreviated bibliographies, one that notes my principal sources for a particular podcast episode or subject, the other that is of broader interest. I will divide this general bibliography into these parts: 1) Rome in General. 2) Ancient Rome. 3) Christian Rome. 4) Modern Rome.

I mostly omit scholarly articles and websites in favor of books, and I abbreviate citations except for items that might be hard to find without a full citation.

Podcast Bibliography: When specific podcasts use materials not drawn from the General Bibliography, I will mention them when those podcasts are produced.

Other Good Podcasts Bearing on Rome: Mike Duncan’s famous podcast (In Italian)

General Bibliography:

1) Rome in General

Sweeping studies of Western Civilization or of the Modern West that feature Rome:

Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome?

Pierre Manent, Metamorphosis of the City

Remi Brague, Eccentric Culture

David Gress, From Plato to NATO

Niall Ferguson, Civilization: The West and the Rest

Kenneth Clark, Civilization

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present

A history of the city from start to the modern period: Christopher Hibbert, Rome: The Biography of a City

Books oriented toward travelers:

Peter Hatlie, ed., People and Places of the Ancient World: The educated Traveler’s Guide

Georgina Masson, The Companion Guide to Rome

Alta Macadam, The Blue Guide to Rome

Best websites with photo collections of great art and architecture:


2) Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome and Great Authors: Livy, Tacitus, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Seneca, Cicero, Lucretius, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Shakespeare,
Montaigne, Vico, Montesquieu, Rousseau. For a Christian critique, see especially St. Augustine, City of God

For a good listing of primary sources and the periods they address, see

Good Blog:

Modern studies of Ancient Rome for general readers: (Often quick to attack ancient Rome for its failure to meet modern moral standards.)

Adrian Goldsworthy, Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World

Mary Beard, SPQR (and many other books: she is the best-known contemporary scholar of Ancient Rome.)

Douglas Boin, Alaric the Goth: An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome

Books on Specific Topics

Tod A. Marder, ed. The Pantheon : from antiquity to the present

The End of the Ancient Word and Origins of Christian Rome

Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries;Christianizing the Roman Empire; Corruption and Decline of the Roman Empire

Peter Brown,The World of Late Antiquity

Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome

Ferdinand Lot, The End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages

Catherine Nixey, The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical Age (This is an easily-read account of material often taken from Ramsay MacMullen’s more scholarly studies. Its thesis is simple: early Christianity actively “cancelled” Classical culture, and this was not good. Recent developments make this thesis even more important to consider.)

3) Christian Rome

Christopher Dawson, The Formation of Christendom and The Making of Europe

Grig and Kelly, Two Romes (Compares Rome and Constantinople, known as “The Second Rome”)

Krautheimer, Richard, Three Christian capitals : topography and politics (The three are Rome, Constantinople, and Milan, which rose to prominence under Bishop Ambrose in the late 4th century, when Rome was no longer a capital of the Roman Empire)

Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins, The Shrine of St. Peter and the Vatican Excavations (The best book on archeology I know!)

Noel Lenski, ed. Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine

Margherita Guarducci, The Primacy of the Church of Rome (A disappointing response to a key question: Why should Rome guide the whole Church?)

Arthur L. Frothingham, The Monuments of Christian Rome from Constantine to the Renaissance

Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages

Alessandro Barbero, Charlemagne Father of a Continent

Henri Pirenne, Mohammed and Charlemagne

Charles L. Stinger, The Renaissance in Rome

Tronzo ed., St. Peter’s and the Vatican (An excellent collection of scholarly essays on the New St. Peter’s)

Brad S. Gregory, The Unintended Reformation

Jan L. de Jong. The Power and the Glorification: Papal Pretensions and the Art of Propaganda in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

Rome in the Age of Napoleon:

Angus Heriot, The French in Italy

4) Modern Rome

On the Enlightenment:

Nadon, Christopher ed., Enlightenment and Secularism: Essays on the Mobilization of Reason

Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism

Gay, Peter. The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom

Israel, Jonathan. Radical Enlightenment

Israel, Jonathan. Enlightenment Contested

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vols. 1 and 2 (London: Watta & Co, 1910)

On the Risorgimento

C.A Bayly and Eugenio F. Biagini, eds. Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalisation of Democratic Nationalism, 1830-1920

E.E.Y. Hales, Pio Nono

Denis Mack Smith has perhaps ten books on the Risorgimento and its main characters. He is readable and, I think, knows his stuff.

Kirk, Terry. The architecture of modern Italy

Clark, Christopher and Wolfram Kaiser, eds. Culture Wars: Secular-Catholic Conflict in Nineteenth Century Europe (Discusses anti-clericalism in ten European countries)

David I. Kertzer, Prisoner of the Vatican

Berggren, L. and Sjöstedt, L., 1996, L’ ombra dei grandi: monumenti e politica monumentale a Roma, (1870-1895). Roma: Artemide Edizioni.

Lucy Riall,Garibaldi

After the Risorgimento:

Croce, Benedetto, A History of Italy 1871-1915

Mussolini, Fascism, and World War II

Borden Painter, Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City

Paul Baxa, Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome

John Foot, Italy’s Divided Memory, (Foot discusses how Italy tries to remember, and forget, different aspects of its memories of fascism, WW II in Italy, massacres and persecutions, and the Resistance to the Nazi occupation.)