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How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
Narrated by: Donald Robertson
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (135 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.00

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Publisher's Summary

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves stories of Marcus’ life from the Roman histories together with explanations of Stoicism - its philosophy and its psychology - to enlighten today’s listeners. He discusses Stoic techniques for coping with everyday problems, from irrational fears and bad habits to anger, pain, and illness. 

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes listeners on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian - taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day - through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides listeners through applying the same methods to their own lives. 

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.

©2019 Donald Robertson (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." (Ryan Holiday, best-selling author of The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic)

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    4 out of 5 stars

A Great Read on Stoicism

The book overall is a really great read on stoicism. It gives you life tips and views which have the possibility to change one's life. It teaches us how to be calmer in any situation, how to stop fearing death and more. In addition, the book has sections which are written and spoken more like a history textbook rather than a self-help book. This is in no way a bad thing, however, it may put some people off.

The only problems I have with the book is the narration and the final chapter. The narration isn't bad by any means, it just takes a little while to get used to the Scottish accent of the narrator, however, this is a very trivial complaint. Another issue I had with the book is the final chapter, specifically the middle of it. It honestly sounded borderline like the writer had an acid trip and began running his mouth, it just felt like babbling more than anything else, however, this was also a very small complaint.

Overall, the book is definitely worth the read and the purchase, I would give it 4.5/5 stars if I were able to.

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Brilliant five star

This is s must read for everybody 10/10 . Donald Robertson has the voice to deliver this well written interpretation of stoic philosophy.

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Great book

Loved it I highly recommend this book great insight into Stoicism and Marcus Aurelius good for anyone new to Stoicism

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beside Marcus Aurelius<br />

best audio book I have listened to.
at times you feel like you are beside Marcus Aurelius on his journey. excellent life lessons . I love Philosophy again.

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Very nice

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Really wanted to like it

With limited stoic texts available I really wanted to like this. Compared to Meditations or Letters from a Stoic or even the Ryan Holiday books on Stoicism, this book is terrible.

Content is a poor rehash of ideas and lacks any eloquence or cadence. The narrator is very hard to listen to. After two hours I gave up on this

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Helps clarify the meditations

Robertson gives a guide on how to empathize with Marcus, thus arms the reader with a model to review their interpretations of the meditations. Major themes are discussed and contextualised nicely and in the spirt of stoicism.

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Confidently relaxed narration

Many audiobooks are made unnecessarily difficult to listen to because of bad narration. Not this one.

This was a peaceful and calm teaching of stoic philosophy.

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Excellent

Thoughtful, well written and enjoyed the narration in the author’s Scottish accent. Combines elements of biography, psychology and philosophy to address the most important questions.

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  • AG
  • 19-07-2019

A guide for life more than anything

This book is meant to be a guide to experience what Zeno called “the good flow of life”. Such an amazing book that shows how practical Stoicism is, and how it can help enhance our hectic daily lives.

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  • Eduard Ezeanu
  • 12-04-2019

Marvelous mix of a biography with stoicism and CBT

This is one of the best books I've read/listened to over the past 12 months (and I read/listen to a lot of books).

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor is really 3 books in one: 1) a biography of the great stoic philosopher and roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, 2) an exposure of important stoic teachings regarding virtue, resilience, dealing with anxiety, pain, anger and death, and 3) a presentation of modern CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) principles and techniques that connect with the ancient stoic teachings and further develop them.

The three components are intertwined seamlessly in each chapter and throughout the whole book, giving the book a good flow and pacing.

I found the story of the life of Marcus Aurelius very interesting and inspiring, and the stoicism and CBT advice very well explained and useful. Highly recommend this book.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Anon
  • 05-04-2019

Stoicism is Relevent

Excellent Book, Excellent Author and Excellent Narration by the author. Everyone I talk to Adores his accent!

Marcus Aurelius believed in the Promise of Philosophy: which is to quell rage, endure pain, conquer fears, eliminate worries, even face the bugbear of death itself with equanimity. Who doesn't want that? It promises a fulfilling (Eudaimonic) and pro-social life. We can really use more of this now, and quick!

These promises are not to be had easily, but they are possible. We see evidence of this by carefully examining the lives of people who have used this system before such as Cato the younger, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as people of our own time: James Stockdale, David Goggins to name a couple.

To them, Philosophy wasn't something you just thought about, it was something you practiced and did! Dedicating every waking thought and action of your life to. But where are the university professors teaching this, and where are the celebrities and political leaders showing this by example? To be a practice, like Weight-training, Yoga or Brazilian Jujitsu, you got to actually have a program of "stuff" to do and practice, as well as an explanation why. Donald Robertson provides these things in a systematic, fascinating, entertaining, not to mention thought-provoking way. When you read this book, I believe you will be impelled to think and Act, and begin to realize that the promises of Philosophy are not just some impossible dreams, but as a reasoning human being, are not only obtainable, but may already be within your grasp.

I've followed Robertson's work for a few years now, and have looked forward to this book for a long time, and am on my second listen. enjoy! :D

17 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy Herndon
  • 15-05-2019

A superb book on Stoicism!

This is a fascinating and book for anybody interested in learning more about Stoicism and improving their life and their character. It is full of techniques to help deal with anxiety, chronic pain, grief and the end of life. It is written in a very compelling style, weaving together the teachings of Stoicism with fascinating details about Marcus Aurelius and his precarious life as a Roman Emperor and modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The author, Donald Robertson, with his lovely Scottish accent reads the book beautifully. I heartily recommend this book for everyone!

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  • George smith
  • 08-05-2019

Outstanding

I count this book in the top 5 of Stoic teaching. Part history and Method, it combines the two beautifully. The narrator compliments the content exceptionally well.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bryan
  • 13-04-2019

extremely easy to digest

great insight of the ancient stoics with very actionable methods of dealing with adversity. it makes me realize where the best book authors I have read get their knowledge. now I will enjoy going back to bits and pieces of the book for maintenance. A great operating system for life!

3 people found this helpful

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  • DAMIEN
  • 25-10-2019

POWER IN THIS CONTENT

The leadership quality and power M.A. has is wonderful, and knowing now where modern day CBT comes from makes it all the better for me. I am a follower of great men and the wisdom they possess. This book has enlightened me beyond what I thought I would get. I'm grateful for getting it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sauhaarda
  • 19-04-2019

Helpful/Applicable Stories

Was very interesting. The stories of Marcus Aurelius's life help to frame the proposed philosophies well.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sam M.
  • 16-04-2019

I'll be recommending this book to a lot of people

A brilliant guide to modern Stoicism.
An amazing insight into the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.
A well researched companion to "Meditations".
A very accessible and less clinical approach to CBT.
A fantastic introduction to Greek/Roman Philosophy.

I'm quite particular with audio/narration, Listening through headphones, Donald has a great voice but it has a lot of low end and the audio is recorded/mixed with quite a lot of top end/sibilance. If this bothers you, listen through an app that allows you to EQ them out. Or don't and use it as an opportunity to practice virtue.

4 people found this helpful

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  • samuel
  • 26-09-2019

Great Book! Wish it was longer.

I've read a lot of Stoic books in the last 10 years. I think this is now my favorite introduction to Stoicism. Donald captures the key points and misunderstandings and tells the story of Marcus Aurelius along the way. Please keep writing!

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  • George Batsakis
  • 25-09-2019

Way more than I expected!

While I had read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations I am a novice in the area of Stoic philosophy. This book left me with a far better understanding and inspired greater study. The linkage to modern cognitive behavior therapy is fascinating and also helpful. The author reads beautifully and made the experience even more enjoyable. Thank you!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-04-2019

This book got me through a difficult time.

I started listening to this at a difficult time while a loved one was struggling through an illness. I couldn't be more grateful to the whole presentation and it's well written.

7 people found this helpful

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  • august year
  • 16-06-2019

Amazing

A newby to philosophy, I was given the letters of Seneca to read which I threw in the bin because it was so boring. This book written and read by Donald Robertson was an eye-opener. It’s sparked my interest in philosophy,psychotherapy,history and even the role of ancient religion in how to live a purpose-filed life. I like the narrator’s accent and narration style. I will certainly be reading/listening to more by him!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Ds Phillips
  • 15-07-2019

Brilliant and insightful

One of the best explorations of Stoicism, and perhaps its most well-known exponent, that I’ve come across. Easy to follow, insightful and highly relevant to modern living. The author has a great voice which lends itself perfectly to the audiobook. Hope to see more from Donald Robertson in the future.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 19-06-2019

Great book

I like it very much. Highly recommended for the stories and the content it offers to the readers

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 17-09-2019

Great book but for me it was fantastic during the last chapter

There were times I found myself switching off a little bit but I put that down to my lack of knowledge of Marcus Aurelius and this type of history in general. This meant I wasn’t sure what were his words or the authors at times. I will do a bit of research and go back over the bits I wasn’t sure of as I’ll enjoy it more with more clarity. The last chapter on death was lovely to listen to and quite emotive. I will listen to this chapter as a sort of meditation and way to gain perspective as it was superb. Overall a great book

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. S. Jennings
  • 16-07-2019

Outstanding

Straight in as one of my top stoicism books. It will be read and re read for many years to come. Absolutely love it.

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  • Mr. M. Smith
  • 10-06-2019

Superb

Superb book. The subject matter riveting. The narration fantastic. Absolutely essential reading/listening. Something that can be listened to over and over. Wonderful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paulo Bazzerio
  • 05-06-2019

Most practical book on stoiscm I have read

Loved it. Most practical book on stoiscm I have read. A must for anyone wanting help with stoic practices.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Steven Down
  • 22-01-2020

Really good

Enjoyable listen which rekindled my interest in the philosophy of ethics , the theory and it's practical applications in modern day life . Also learned about the life of Marcus Auralius and his contribution to stoicism .

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  • Edward Teach
  • 13-01-2020

Exceptional

This book is a fantastic guide to the stoic philosophy of life, taking the ancient wisdom of Marcus Aurelius and applying it to modern CBT. Robertson's writing is clear and plain, and his narration of his own work could not be better. A handbook for living life. Highly recommended.