From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Ancient Athens has passed a great legacy down to the modern world in its political structures, art, literature, and architecture. This book is an admirable attempt to portray the history of the city, and, to a greater extent, the ebb and flow of daily life in the year 340 B.C.E. This date is beyond the time of Athens's greatest glory, but still within the period when its major attractions brought visitors from all over Greece. The conceit of the series is that the information is presented as a travel guide. This gives Nardo an opportunity to describe the customs, people, buildings, religious festivals, athletics, art, and politics as if speaking to someone from another culture, which, of course, all modern readers are. Young "tourists" from the 21st century will find much useful material for reports, including a large number of black-and-white illustrations, a few maps, and an extensive bibliography (unfortunately, not including Web resources). The detailed descriptions of this illustrious city-state should be a welcome addition to any collection. Peter Connolly and Hazel Dodge's The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome (Oxford, 1998) is a good complementary book.David Pauli, Hillsboro Public Library, OR
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Reviewed with James Barter's Renaissance Florence
Gr. 5-8. Like others in the A Travel Guide To series, these titles offer a great deal of cultural history in an unusual tourist-guide format, set during historical periods: 1512 B.C.E. in Florence and 340 B.C.E. in Athens. Chapters address standard guidebook fare: history, weather and geography, where to stay and what to eat, architectural and artistic monuments, sightseeing, and nearby attractions. Both books touch on, but don't adequately address, the lives of women (Athens is particularly confusing in its reference to marketplace etiquette between the sexes), and a casual mention in Athens' "Shopping" section that slaves can be purchased in the marketplace needs explanation. But each chapter brings history alive through the details of how people really lived, and there are plenty of facts to catch young readers' interest: male athletes in Athens train and compete completely naked, for example, and residents of Florence only bathe once or twice a month. The dull, mostly black-and-white photos are a poor compliment to the travel-guide format, but maps and extensive notes enhance the creative approach and interesting texts. Gillian Engberg
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