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review 2019-08-16 10:43
1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed - Eric H. Cline

TITLE:   1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

 

AUTHOR:  Eric H. Cline

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2015

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780691168388

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DESCRIPTION:

"In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh's army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown. How did it happen?

In this major new account of the causes of this "First Dark Ages," Eric Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

A compelling combination of narrative and the latest scholarship, 1177 B.C. sheds new light on the complex ties that gave rise to, and ultimately destroyed, the flourishing civilizations of the Late Bronze Age--and that set the stage for the emergence of classical Greece.
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REVIEW:

 

This book seems to have improved on a second reading 2 years after the first.  

Cline has written a well researched, interesting and serviceable literature review of the end of the Late Bronze Age, the three preceding centuries, and the multitude of causes attributed to this decline/collapse.  Cline spends a lot of text on urban archaeological findings, palatial elites and trading links, but practically ignores the role of agriculture and rural populations.  The role of climate, disease, famine and earthquakes (and anything else) is also dealt with in one chapter only.  There is nothing new in this book, but it does bring together the events of the time and various hypotheses in one book in a semi-popular style history book.  The organisation and repetitiveness of the book leaves something to be desired.  A time line would have been useful. 

 

 

 

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review 2019-05-20 10:30
The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes
The Shortest History of Germany - James Hawes

A bare-bones (minus a few phalanges and ribs) of what will eventually become Germany.  The beginning is alright, if very superficial, but the rest is overshadowed by the author's political agenda, dislike for Protestants and rabid anti-Prussianess (or basically a dislike for anything on the east side of the Elbe).  There were also numerous factual errors and typos.  The inclusion of maps was usefull.  There is no timeline or list of references, or even further recommended reading.  In short, a poor offering. 

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review 2019-02-28 08:16
The War That Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander
The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War - Caroline Alexander

TITLE:  The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War

 

AUTHOR:  Caroline Alexander

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2010

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780143118268

 

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DESCRIPTION:

"WHAT ARE THE REAL LESSONS OF WAR?

The Illiad is celebrated as one of the greatest of all works of literature, the epic of all epics. But while the dramatic events of the Trojan War are legendary, the true theme of this ancient poem is often forgotten: the horror and enduring devastation of war. Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a s bestselling narrative historian. The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of Western civilization. Caroline Alexander has taken apart a narrative we think we know and put it back together in a way that illuminates its true power, relevant to all wars, past and present.
"

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REVIEW:

 

Caroline Alexander has written a book that briefly explores what Homer's Iliad is all about and what the epic poem tells us about war.   This is not a translation of the Iliad,  nor a history of the war, with archaeological evidence etc, so the sub-title is misleading.  It is simply a description of the epic poem (with quotes) follwed by the author's commentary and analysis. The writing is clear and the author's arguments and observations easy to follow.  Alexander also includes additional historical details to help add context to the story.  An especially interesting aspect is what the Iliad has to "say" about the psychological effects of this war on the humans involved, and how this is still relevant today.  I found this to be an interesting and thoughtful examination of the Iliad and the characters mentioned in the epic.  However, it would have been wonderful if Caroline Alexander had decided to explore some of the themes more fully.   

 

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review 2018-11-30 08:31
The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson
The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe - Hilda Ellis Davidson

TITLE:  The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe

 

AUTHOR:  Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1993

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780415049375

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Interesting, but somewhat disorganized.  Unfortunately the lost beliefs of Northern Europe still remain lost. I prefer the texts by Claude Lecouteaux.

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review 2018-11-19 06:19
The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs by Claude Lecouteux
The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs: Avatars of Invisible Realms - Claude Lecouteux

TITLE:   The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarfs:  Avatars of Invisible Realms

 

AUTHOR: Claude Lecouteux

 

DATE PUBLISHED: October 2018

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13: 9781620557150

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DESCRIPTION:

 

"A comprehensive examination of the intertwined mythology, folklore, and literary history of the little people

• Explores the pagan roots of dwarfs and elves and their evolution in myth and literature

• Reveals the role the church played in changing them from fearless, shape-shifting warriors with magical powers into cheerful helpmates and cute garden gnomes

• Traces their history from ancient Celtic and Germanic lore through their emergence in the literature of the Middle Ages to their modern popularization by the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney

Most people are familiar with the popular image of elves as Santa’s helpers and dwarfs as little bearded men wearing red caps, who are mischievous and playful, helpful and sly, industrious and dexterous. But their roots go far deeper than their appearance in fairy tales and popular stories. Elves and dwarfs are survivors of a much older belief system that predates Christianity and was widespread throughout Western Europe.

Sharing his extensive analysis of Germanic and Norse legends, as well as Roman, Celtic, and medieval literature, Claude Lecouteux explores the ancient, intertwined history of dwarfs and elves. He reveals how both were once peoples who lived in wild regions as keepers of the secrets of nature. They were able to change their size at will and had superhuman strength and healing powers. They were excellent smiths, crafting swords that nothing could dull as well as magical jewelry, and often entered into the service of lords or heroes. They were a part of the everyday life of our ancestors before they were transformed by fairy tales and church texts into the mythical creatures we know today.

Lecouteux shows how, in earlier folklore, elves and dwarfs were interchangeable, gradually evolving over time to express very different kinds of beings. “Dwarf,” “giant,” and even “elf” did not necessarily connote size but referred to races with different skills. Elves were more ethereal, offering protection and kindness, while dwarfs reflected a more corporeal form of spirit, often appearing as messengers from the underworld. Yet dwarfs and elves could be bargained with, and our ancestors would leave a broken object outside the door at night with the hope that a dwarf or elf (or other local spirit) would repair it.

Revealing the true roots of these helpful and powerful beings, including an in-depth exploration of one of the most famous dwarf/elf/fairy beings of the Middle Ages, Auberon or Oberon, also known as Alberich, Lecouteux shows how the magic of dwarfs and elves can be rekindled if we recognize their signs and invite them back into our world.
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The Hidden History of Elves and Dwarves takes a scholarly look at the changing nature of elves and dwarves in NEurope.  The book is informative and interesting, making a nice addition to the Ancestral Lore and Practices collection by the same author.

 

 

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