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review 2020-10-03 15:11
The Greeks by Philip Matyszak
The Greeks - Philip Matyszak

TITLE:  The Greeks

 

SERIES:  Lost Civilizations

 

AUTHOR:  Philip Matyszak

 

DATE PUBLISHED: 2018

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781780239002

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DESCRIPTION:

"This book is a portrait of Ancient Greece—but not as we know it. Few people today appreciate that Greek civilization was spread across the Middle East, or that there were Greek cities in the foothills of the Himalayas. Philip Matyszak tells the lost stories of the Greeks outside Greece, compatriots of luminaries like Sappho, the poet from Lesbos; Archimedes, a native of Syracuse; and Herodotus, who was born in Asia Minor as a subject of the Persian Empire. Stretching from the earliest prehistoric Greek colonies around the Black Sea to Greek settlements in Spain and Italy, through the conquests of Alexander and the glories of the Hellenistic era, to the fall of Byzantium, The Greeks illuminates the lives of the Greek soldiers, statesmen, scientists, and philosophers who laid the foundations of what we call “Greek culture” today—though they seldom, if ever, set foot on the Greek mainland. Instead of following the well-worn path of examining the rise of Athenian democracy and Spartan militarism, this book offers a fresh look at what it meant to be Greek by instead telling the story of the Greeks abroad, from modern-day India to Spain."

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REVIEW:

 

This book is short and informative, providing a broad, simplified, and somewhat bland, history of Greek Civilization, it's spread and influence.

 

 

 

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review 2020-10-02 06:28
The Persians by Geoffrey Parker & Brenda Parker
The Persians - Geoffrey Parker

TITLE:   The Persians

 

SERIES:  Lost Civilizations

 

AUTHORS:  Geoffrey Parker & Brenda Parker

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781780236506

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DESCRIPTION:

"During the first and second millennia BCE a swathe of nomadic peoples migrated outward from Central Asia into the Eurasian periphery. One group of these people would find themselves encamped in an unpromising, arid region just south of the Caspian Sea. From these modest and uncertain beginnings, they would go on to form one of the most powerful empires in history: the Persian Empire. In this book, Geoffrey and Brenda Parker tell the captivating story of this ancient civilization and its enduring legacy to the world.   
The authors examine the unique features of Persian life and trace their influence throughout the centuries. They examine the environmental difficulties the early Persians encountered and how, in overcoming them, they were able to develop a unique culture that would culminate in the massive, first empire, the Achaemenid Empire. Extending their influence into the maritime west, they fought the Greeks for mastery of the eastern Mediterranean—one of the most significant geopolitical contests of the ancient world. And the authors paint vivid portraits of Persian cities and their spectacular achievements: intricate and far-reaching roadways, an astonishing irrigation system that created desert paradises, and, above all, an extraordinary reflection of the diverse peoples that inhabited them.
            Informed and original, this is a history of an incomparable culture whose influence can still be seen, millennia later, in modern-day Iran and the wider Middle East.
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REVIEW:

 

This book provides a broad, simplified, and somewhat bland, history of Persia from the Achaemenid Empire to modern Iranian times.  Informative and short.

 

 

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review 2020-09-28 06:31
Ancient Persia by Matt Waters
Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE - Matthew Waters

Matt Waters provides a detailed but brief historical overview of the Achaemenid period, 550-330 BCE. The author also examines the many interpretive problems historians face in constructing and understanding its history, especially since much of the history of this period is gained from Greek, rather than Persian sources. Interesting and informative. For a less scholarly text, try Persian Fire by Tom Holland.

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review 2020-09-11 06:14
The Story of Greece and Rome by Tony Spawforth
The Story of Greece and Rome - Tony Spawforth

TITLE:  The Story of Greece and Rome

 

AUTHOR:  Tony Spawforth

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2018

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780300217117

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DESCRIPTION:

"The extraordinary story of the intermingled civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, spanning more than six millennia from the late Bronze Age to the seventh century

The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the “civilized” Greek and Roman empires resisting the barbarians at the gate are far from accurate. Tony Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East.
 
From the rise of the Mycenaean world of the sixteenth century B.C., Spawforth traces a path through the ancient Aegean to the zenith of the Hellenic state and the rise of the Roman empire, the coming of Christianity and the consequences of the first caliphate. Deeply informed, provocative, and entirely fresh, this is the first and only accessible work that tells the extraordinary story of the classical world in its entirety.
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REVIEW:

 

This is a semi-fast paced, spotty, overview of the the history of Ancient Greece and Rome, interspersed with anecdotes or travel notes from the author.  The organisation of the information in the book is a bit erratic.  For example, the author will mention/quote Cicero but won't tell you who he is or why he is important until the end of the chapter or possible the next chapter.  I'm not sure that anyone new to Ancient Greece and Rome will be able to follow, or perhaps they won't know enough to know what is being left out?  This book does however have a nice collection of  maps throughout.

I prefer Ancient Greece by Thomas R. Martin and Ancient Rome by Thomas R. Martin, or Persian Fire by Tom Holland (for the Greeks and Persians) or even The Classical World by Robin Lane Fox.

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review 2020-05-27 09:36
In Search of the Trojan War by Michael Wood
In Search of the Trojan War - Michael Wood

TITLE:  In Search of the Trojan War

 

AUTHOR:  Michael Wood

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2005 (updated edition)

 

FORMAT:  paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780563522652

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DESCRIPTION:

 "For thousands of years we have been enthralled by tales of Troy and its heroes. Achilles and Hector, Paris and the famed beauty Helen remain some of the most enduring figures in art and literature. But did these titanic characters really walk the earth? Was there ever an actual siege of Troy? In this extensively revised edition, historian Michael Wood takes account of the latest dramatic developments in the search for Troy. His wide-ranging study of the complex archaeological, literary and historical records has been brought up-to-date. Detailing the rediscovery in Moscow of the so-called jewels of Helen and the re-excavation of the site of Troy begun in 1988, which continues to yield new evidence about the historical city, In Search of the Trojan War takes a fresh look at some of the most excited discoveries in archaeology. A dazzling and exhaustive analysis. Washington Post This beautifully illustrated book vividly evokes themes that are central to our civilizations quest for its past. "

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REVIEW:

 

An entertaining and fascinating detective history book that aims to determine if the Trojan War could have happened as described in Homer's Iliad.  Wood takes a look at archaeology (ancient texts and ground work), as well as literature, to determine what was going on in and around the ancient Mediterranean region during the Bronze Age.  The updated edition includes an additional chapter that reveals new finds made since the 1980s.  A few more illustrations (especially one that displays all the Troy levels) would have been useful.

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