What Can Edward Gibbon Still Teach Us Today?
From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Since the first publication of his six-volume magnum opus, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1734-1797) has been ranked among the greatest historians who ever lived. What made his work different? Does it hold up today? And what lessons can a modern-day historian draw from his example? In this episode, Jacke talks with author Zachary Karabell about Gibbon’s inspiration, influence, and legacy.
Zachary Karabell is the author of numerous books, including Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power and The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. He is also the founder of the Progress Network at New America, the president of River Twice Capital, and the host of the podcast What Could Go Right?