This is an excellent overview of how Rome built and sustained an Empire.Woolf considers a range of factors in turn - such as geography, climate, culture/religion, the economy, and the institutions they established - and describes how they contributed to the success of the Empire. His comparisons to other empires of similar scale were informative. The 'further reading' sections at the end of each chapter are particularly helpful for those who want to explore a particular aspect of Roman history in more depth.Partly because of its succinct breadth, the author sometimes favours dry details over the more interesting personalities or happenings. Occasionally a tantalisingly interesting fact is just left hanging, eg: Signs of the seriousness with which the Senate treated Hannibal's victory at Cannae in 216 included [...] the live burial of a Gallic couple and a Greek couple in the Roman fourm. p. 73. Why?? This is not footnoted, or explained. The book devotes far less time to the decline of the Empire, but does consider it in relation to the factors that had driven its establishment.