cover image  Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation

Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation

Stanley Bing, . . Norton, $23.95 (197pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06026-3

Fortune columnist Bing (Sun-Tzu Was a Sissy ) condenses the 1,200-year history of Rome into a slim, wildly entertaining satire for businessmen, particularly those who happen to be fans of HBO's Rome . Irreverent without ever slipping into Dave Barry–style logical anarchy, the volume renders epic history in corporate-speak, providing enough substance and insight along the way to keep readers' attention. As Bing notes, much of Roman history consists of "wars, wars and more wars," and he skips over big chunks of it. "I give up," he shrugs, focusing instead on the decisions and personalities of the colorful leaders, from Romulus to Caligula. Most interesting are the author's discourses on why Rome's "corporate strategy" worked so well for so long ("corporations willing to kill people do better than those which are not") and why its "corporate culture" was sufficiently strong to rally its citizens/soldiers/employees for an endless series of battles. And while wryly acknowledging that the Romans' use of "murder as a business tool" may be excessive in today's environment, Bing endorses many of their strategies as sound: "In any corporate transformation, a good housecleaning is absolutely called for." Word to the wise: if the guy in the next cubicle is reading Rome, Inc. , watch your back—especially if it's the Ides of March. (May)