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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overview of the ancient Mediterranean
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...
Published on December 30, 2002 by mrliteral

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaping the World
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...
Published on October 26, 2003 by Wallace V. French III


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overview of the ancient Mediterranean, December 30, 2002
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insights, November 9, 2005
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaping the World, October 26, 2003
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading, May 21, 2006
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cultural examination of early Mediterranean civilizations - difficult read, August 9, 2009
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JH "hobbs_tx" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I have read other Michael Grant books and really enjoy reading about history. However, I had a hard time finishing this book. The book's concept is what interested me. Explaining the history of all the major Mediterranean civilizations and how they interrelate is a great concept. But the execution failed in maintaining an organized progression and keeping reader interest. Grant tries to tackle too many topics. He jumps around and has so much information to present that the book looses it's momentum. I also felt that he tried to rely too much his written descriptions to portray influences of the arts (pottery, paintings, objects, etc.). Grant should have some visual aids to show how the earlier techniques influenced later cultures. If this wasn't possible, less time should have been spent on the subject.

Despite my observations above, I still rate this book with 3 stars. It definitely has its flaws, but there is a lot of interesting material here. I enjoyed the discussion on physical characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding lands. The information on early migrations into the area and the impact they had on the surroundings was fascinating. I learned about several civilizations that I had little knowledge of and how they influenced the later cultures like Greece and Rome.

This book isn't for most people, but for those with strong curiosity about early civilizations in the Mediterranean and how they got there you may want to try this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview, December 29, 2011
Excellent. The value of the book is in the way he demonstrates the interaction of various cultures impinging on the Eastern Mediterranean, far more influential on the development of Greece than I had realized.

1. The eastern seaboard, Syria, Phoenicia and Anatolia, can be seen as the western-most depots of the fertile crescent, which brought the ideas of Eastern culture into the Mediterranean along with prized and valuable goods.

2. Egyptian influence penetrated up the same seaboard and came into conflict with the Hittites in Anatolia, much farther north than I had perceived and brought Egyptian styles and ideas into direct contact with the Aegean.

3. The influence of the Ionian cities of Anatolia in delivering aesthetic and religious ideas from the Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian Empires, was more pervasive on mainland Greece than even the Greeks themselves perceived.

He draws on various disciplines, Archaeology, Aesthetics, ancient authors, etc., to pull together a fuller image of how the ancient influences worked. The criticism that he leaps from topic to topic and brings in too much detail does not bother me.

It changed my way of seeing Greece, my prime interest, from a unique culture centered on both sides of the Aegean, to his insight that the brilliance of Greece is in how it converted and adapted the Eastern and Egyptian influences into a distinctly original culture.

Would have been five stars but that the maps are a great disappointment. Many places referred to in the text do not appear on the maps. Important geographical features that he refers to are not indicated -rivers, valleys, mountain ranges, etc. Very frustrating and it needs a good Greek historical atlas at hand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 13, 2014
Shipped and arrived quickly
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1.0 out of 5 stars reference book, May 23, 2014
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The service from ordering this book was great. No complaints there. However, it is not my cup of tea. It was a recommended read for a trip I am taking this Fall. I feel the history it imparts is too detailed and comprehensible to be digestible. If you are getting a doctorate in Ancient Mediterranean history you might like this. Too much for an overview for traveling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great history lesson, July 31, 2014
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This review is from: The ancient Mediterranean (Hardcover)
Fascinating. Great history lesson.
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20 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Ancient Mediterranean, March 24, 2000
I do not recommend this book unless you are more interested in a technical history rather than a layman's history. It may make a good textbook, but it is not exciting to read.
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The ancient Mediterranean
The ancient Mediterranean by Michael Grant (Hardcover - 2002)
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