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Athens: A History, From Ancient Ideal To Modern City Hardcover – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046509063X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465090631
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,488,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Athens will host the Olympic Games in 2004, perhaps restoring some glory to a city that, according to Waterfield, has seen better days. In this fast-paced history, Waterfield, who has translated many works from ancient Greek, chronicles the rise and fall of Athens, from ancient days (the bulk of his narrative) to the political revolutions of the 19th century. Legend has it that the great Theseus, who killed the Minotaur, was one of the city's founders and fostered its democratic spirit. Athens's location near the coast (facilitating trade) and its fertile land attracted migrants from the Mediterranean world. For Waterfield, the period of Athens's greatest glory came in the fifth century B.C., when Pericles overturned its aristocratic rule and established a democracy. For 30 years (446-416 B.C.), Athens reached a glorious pinnacle during which philosophy, religion, art and architecture flourished. The grandest accomplishment was the building of the Parthenon, completed in just nine years. During its peak years, Athens also attempted to reign over neighboring states, and its increasingly arrogant imperialism and materialism eventually resulted in war with Sparta and other Greek states that destroyed Athens's splendor. As Waterfield observes, Athens would never again achieve such glory, and it became a territory ruled over the years by Persia, Rome and Turkey. Waterfield sandwiches his helpful history between an opening section on the ancient Olympics and a closing one on the forthcoming games, which jars readers out of their pleasant excursion though the ancient city. 8 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Timed for the 2004 Olympics, this historical narrative aspires to a broader focus than most books celebrating the meteoric rise and fall of classical democracy in fifth-century Athens. Opening significantly prior to Pericles and following Athens' decline through the Roman empire and beyond, it does manage to contextualize the glory days of Greece within a broad historical arc, even if somewhat unevenly: the 1,500 years from Byzantium to Lord Elgin are compressed somewhat uncomfortably into the same amount of space devoted to ancient Athens' leisure activities. Athens in the twentieth century--including the civil war leading to Greek independence--appears only in the epilogue. In spite of these unfortunate foreshortenings, however, Waterfield's study of the deep footprints of the classical era in general and the Olympic ideal in particular is honest, accessible, and enlightening. Its tour of daily life in classical Athens is excellent, and while it deals with modern Athens much less than its subtitle would imply, the modern political world looms present in Waterfield's analysis of Athens' downfall, the result of "shortsighted arrogance" and "overreaching." Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Lee on December 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My wife is of Greek origin and ever since visiting the country for the first time in 2007 (after 17 years of marriage) I've been in love with it. I've also been fortunate to have visited places most people don't get to see and my interest in its history has only grown. I found Robin Waterfield's book when researching for an idea I have about a novel series on Athens. the book seemed to be one of the only ones available that gave the history of Athens I was looking for. It was well reviewed and after getting into it those reviews seem well founded.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane B. Ames on July 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This extremely interesting and comprehensive look at the long, long history of Athens put our current world issues into a new perspective for me.
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