Originally a small town on the banks of the Tiber River, Rome grew in size and strength through trade. The location of the city provided merchants with an easily navigable waterway on which to traffic their goods. Greek culture and civilization, which came to Rome via Greek colonies to the south, provided the early Romans with a model on which to build their own culture. Once the city was established, it was war - most notably the Punic Wars with Carthage - which would make it great. Ancient Rome by Duncan Hill provides a reader with an excellent understanding of this great city and the culture of the people.
As an introduction to the history of Rome this is a fine book but, even for one who already knows a great deal, the work is an enjoyable experience. The images are magnificent and the text is well researched and clearly written. A perfect gift for the history buff in the family and, if that's you, a great treat for yourself. No, it's not as comprehensive as Gibbon or Durant - it's a coffee table book - but, as such, it is really excellent and informative. Sometimes such books gloss over the less pleasant epochs in the history of a civilization but this work by Duncan Hill confronts Rome from the Republic to the Empire squarely and honestly. Highly recommended.