I couldn’t help thinking at the time that there was something distinctly prophetic in the idea in Salman Rushdie’s 2001 novel, Fury, that Rome fell not because of any weakening of the empire’s armies “but because Romans forgot what being a Roman meant”.

These words seemed to take on the quality almost of a warning not long after Fury reached the bookshelves in the second half of the year, as they coincided with — and, for me, seemed to frame — the challenge then confronting civilised society across the globe: how to respond to the terror of 9/11...

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