How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius was reviewed by Benjamin Shull today in The Wall Street Journal. His article is titled ‘Meditations for the Masses’. It’s behind a paywall but I’ve picked out a few quotes below.
In “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor,” Mr. Robertson, a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, shows how Marcus’ example can be of use to the rest of us. Marcus’ worldview was not an idle intellectual exercise, he argues, but a form of wisdom forged by real-world experiences of friendship, loss and crisis.
I’m glad that people appreciate the connections made between Marcus’ life and his use of Stoicism, in the book. I tried to extract practical advice that is still relevant today, in dealing with problems like unhealthy desires and bad habits, managing anger, conquering fears and anxieties, living with chronic pain and illness, dealing with loss, and even coming to terms with our own mortality.
As he shares fragments from Marcus’ life, Mr. Robertson distills the emperor’s philosophy into useful mental habits—the core lessons of “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor” are more behavioral than historical. […]
The book combines philosophy, psychology, and ancient history, so it required a lot of research and was quite an undertaking to write. So I’m pleased that reviewers feel it comes together.
Mr. Robertson […] displays a sound knowledge of Marcus’ life and thought. The author’s accessible prose style, well-suited for recounting both philosophical concepts and arcane Roman history, contributes to its appeal. As an introduction to Stoic philosophy, it’s hard to beat the “Meditations,” which deserve to be read ahead of any commentary on them. That said, Mr. Robertson’s book succeeds on its own terms, presenting a convincing case for the continuing relevance of an archetypal philosopher-king.
I’ve always felt like what I’m doing, in a sense, is introducing people to this vast treasure trove of wisdom and beautiful writing, which we have inherited from Stoics like Marcus Aurelius.