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The Founders of the Western World: A History of Greece and Rome Hardcover – August 1, 1991

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (August 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684193035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684193038
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grant, author of two dozen books on Greece and Rome, attempts to show how the two cultures were "inextricably intermingled." Instead of documenting this in systematic fashion, he presents a synthesis and update of his previous writings, recast on the basis of current research. This lively, terse, engaging history is a magnificent feast, marked by Grant's flair for the revealing detail and spiked with relevance for the present. Stressed is the enormous legacy that the Greeks adapted from Near Eastern art, literature, philosophy, religion and even city-state structure. We glimpse the Roman empire as a vast multiracial society that allowed an unprecedented measure of self-realization. If history for Grant is something made by great men, he also incorporates broad influences. For example, he points out key factors that made the Greek miracle possible--a favorable climate and ample leisure for the few. BOMC, QPB and History Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author's prolific output (the Notes refer to 22 works) makes him well qualified to prepare a comprehensive summary of ancient history. Grant devotes some 116 pages of text to the Greeks and 81 to the Romans; the remaining pages include seven appendixes on specialized topics, and a lengthy comparative table of dates. Because of compression, omission, and style, this is not the most readable or entertaining of surveys and there are no illustrations; yet Grant manages to condense the essentials into one short volume, and for those libraries needing such a condensation, this work is recommended.
- Robert J. Lenardon, Siena Coll., Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Aristotle Bury on August 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Michael Grant is the author of a series of books covering in some detail Greco-Roman history from the rise of the Greeks to the fall of the Roman Empire. The intent of the 'The Founders' is to condense that series into a single volume. While I am sympathetic to this goal, it seems that perhaps it was the publisher's idea rather than the author's; I can't help but feel that the author's heart just wasn't in it. It reads very much like a cut-and-paste job from his earlier books. Choppy in parts and lacking in the specific hypotheses that make for interesting historical reading, the section on Rome, in particular, lacks style. Augustus is dealt with fairly well, but most of the Emperors are dealt with in an almost Old Testament-like manner: so-and-so begat so-and-so who begat so-and-so who begat.... The author would have been better off inserting a few original ideas into this section and skipping the long and pointless recitation of the succession of later Emperors.

The Greek section is organized by geography. I did extract some enjoyment from this treatment. By organizing the text in this way, the author has avoided the usual near-exclusive focus on Athens and Sparta that characterizes many popular treatments of ancient Greece. However, like the Roman section, this focus on geography leads to a certain amount of choppiness as the author skips from one city state to the next, and a consequent feeling of disjointedness that stylistically belies the author's stated purpose of conceptually unifying the Greco-Roman world.

In praise of the book, I will say that I appreciate the back matter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Octavius on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you always wanted to learn about Ancient Greece and Rome but didn't know where to start this book by Michael Grant is a good place to do it. In this small but comprehensive book, Michael Grant carefully outlines all of the historical milestones that made both civilizations great and timeless.

Grant first begins with covering the Greek world and devotes 2/3 of his book to that subject. Grant covers the origins of Greek speaking peoples with groups such as the Myceneans and their contact with other Mediterranean civilizations. Grant then proceeds to Classical Greece, the Persian Wars, and the Peloponnesian War. Grant explains the origins of democracy in Athens and contrast with Sparta's dual monarchy. Grant also devotes significant attention to the political, philosophical, and artistic contributions of the Greeks. The section on Greece concludes with Alexander The Great and the Hellenic period.

Grant's section on Rome is also comprehensive in covering the significant events that shaped Rome and her contributions. Grant covers the origins of Rome under the Etruscans and the Greek Italian colonies. Grant also covers the importance of the Punic Wars, Rome's contact with the Celts, and Rome's conquest of the Hellenic monarchies. Grant also discusses the impact of popular Roman leaders such as Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, and Crassus. After explaining the Republic, Grant does a broad overview of the Principate devoting most of his attention to Augustus, Constantine, and Diocletian. As with his Greek section, Grant devotes some sections to discuss Rome's contributions in government, military, and artistic areas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dwight D. Stanford Md on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the reviewer who called it a cut and paste job, but disagree with the "Not bad" judgement. This is nearly impossible to read if you don't already have an extensive background in the subject (a PhD might help). The author skips from battles to intrigues to poets inside 3 paragraphs in a staccato fashion. I would recommend "The Teaching Company" lectures as a far better way to learn about early modern civilizations. Caveat: I have given up after reading the first 4 parts as it just isn't a pleasant read leaving part 5 for other reviewers who are more resistant to this writer's style.
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