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The Ancient Mediterranean (Meridian) Paperback – September 1, 1988


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Product Details

  • Series: Meridian
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (September 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452010373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452010376
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on December 30, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Grant has shown over the years to be an authority on ancient times (in the Western World). He has especially dedicated a number of his books to Greece and Rome. In the Ancient Mediterranean, he broadens his field to the various civilizations around this body of water, particularly the ones on the eastern shores.
This book is only partly history. It is also anthropology, as Grant examines what made up the culture of these various groups. Since a lot of this is very ancient, there are not many individuals in much of this book; instead this is the story of various groups. Only late in the book, when the focus moves to Greece and then Rome do we see individual historic figures; even then, Grant only glosses over them as he examines the societies.
Because of Grant's style, this can be slow reading at times, but there is a lot of good information here. If you are interested in Greek and Roman history, this book is insufficient, but to get a context in which these great civilizations arouse, this book will work well.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sanford Holst on November 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have read several of Michael Grant's books, including Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean (with Kitzinger) and History of Rome, but I especially liked The Ancient Mediterranean because of its excellent insights. What Grant does here is provide the specific thing which is lacking in most other books dealing with history: a perceptive look at the interactions between different countries and different civilizations. The overwhelming number of books on subjects in history pick out one narrow focus and deal with it in great depth. There is real value in doing that, without question. But it often comes at the cost of keeping things in perspective.

If one reads books about the Romans, for example, one would eventually come to the conclusion that the Romans were the center of the universe and very little happened outside their domain. The same is true of books on Egyptians, Chinese, or any other group. One frequently loses sight of the fact that outside that particular land or empire, the world is going on just fine and many remarkable -- even momentous -- things are happening.

I referred to Grant's Ancient Mediterranean often while writing my most recent book "Phoenicians: Lebanon's Epic Heritage." His work was only one of many sources, of course, but a valuable one. I tried to heed his underlying philosophy and keep in mind the interactions between the Phoenicians and all the other cultures which existed at that time in the Mediterranean. What I discovered was that by giving some attention to the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians and other peoples around them, the story of the Phoenicians actually became deeper and richer than it otherwise would have been. Not only that, but the stories of all these peoples began to take on additional meaning by seeing them in a vibrant and significant larger community of lands and societies.

Grant was not the first to do this, of course, but he did it very well, and it is appreciated.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Wallace V. French III on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Grant is best known for his extensive authoring of books on ancient Greece and Rome. This volume is a cultural history of the entire Mediterranean region. It is broken up into three parts: Early Times, The Greeks, and The Romans. The most interesting part (and the reason why I read this book) is part one. Grant uses a variety of ways to sum-up the civilizations of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. He uses archeology, geography, anthropology, and economics to tell the tale of how these civilizations helped shape the later Mediterranean world of the Greeks and Romans. It is amazing that something as simple as the use of the horse can help shape a civilization. I enjoyed the chapters on the expansion of Israel and Carthage. Both societies were a force to be reckoned with. This is more proof of the power and reach of the Roman Empire which eliminated the Carthaginian world and subjugated the Israelites. The book loses a star because of the poor quality of the plates. I have the Meridian Edition from 1988 and the black and white plates look like photos of photos. I imagine the 1969 hardcover is much better if you can find it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By William N. Ostrove on May 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is definatley worth reading if you are interested in learning more about the ancient Meditteranean world. While there are some downsides to the book, they are far outweighed by the good parts of the book. Like some of the other reviews mentioned, this book can be a slow read at times. Also, the maps in the back could be better.

If you are willing to read through the slow parts, though, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. Michael Grant is very knowledgeable about his subject, and this is especially so for the parts about Greece and Rome. Its obvious that he enjoys this topic, and that shows through in the writing. The reason this book is slow to read at times is because it is so packed with information. If you are looking for an overview of the Mediterranean world, this is the book to read. For only 400 pages there is a huge amount of knowledge.

Grant is very good at tying things together. One major theme throughout the book is how different cultures influenced each other. For example, how the Greeks were influenced by Mesopotamian cultures. He also does not ignore the fact that the Mediterranean was influenced by cultures outside of its boundaries, but the book still stays focused on the Mediterranean world.

Other themes throughout the book are how interconnected the different countries and cultures of the Mediterranean world are. He also covers the development of technology, such as farming techniques (as well as the invention of agriculture itself), pottery, different metals, etc. The book covers many different cultures from the beginning of agriculture nearly to the end of the Roman Empire. Many civilizations are mentioned including well known ones like the Egyptians and Greeks, and little known ones like the Hurians.

This is a good book if you are looking for an overview of the Mediterranean world. If you are looking for something specific look for something else.
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