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What Life Was Like: At the Dawn of Democracy : Classical Athens 525-322 Bc Hardcover – December, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 UpAThis large, well-designed volume on Athens in the classical age invites readers to browse through the lavishly illustrated inserts on such topics as voting, medicine, building the Parthenon, and divination, and to linger over pictorial essays on gods and goddesses, Homeric heroes, the Olympics, and Alexander the Great. However, the main content of the book is in the three chapters that reconstruct the life of the city as lived by the ordinary householder, the aristocratic class, and the farmer-soldier. Based on historical fact and documentary evidence, the chapters are fine examples of the current trend toward historical storytelling, reconstructing the past through informed speculation and dramatization. A famous speech in defense of a man named Euphiletos, charged with the murder of his wife's lover, becomes the window into domestic middle-class life. The well-known figures of Pericles and Aspasia provide the basis for entering into the social and political life of the rich and powerful; and a re-creation of the battles of Marathon, on land, and the Athenian navy at sea, show the military in action. Full-color photographs, prints, sculptures, and drawings of numerous figures from Greek pottery decorate the pages in an appealing array of Greek art and architecture. The facts of history are here for the seeking, in the introductory overview, the biographical sketches, and the maps, but the book is really structured, and visually designed, for leisurely reading and enjoyment.AShirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 7^-12. With lavish color art and vivid descriptions, this book re-creates the world of ancient Athens. The scope is broad, including politics, sports, society, arts, and religion. In a presumed attempt to enliven the text, the editors have used imagined or sketchy historical incidents to link topics. For example, one chapter calls up an actual incident in which a man kills his unfaithful wife's lover--an acceptable solution according to ancient Greek law. Although little about the incident is really known (not even the wife's name is recorded), the occurrence evolves into 25 pages that include speculation about the events, brief essays on education and medicine, and facts about Athenian marriage rites, domestic architecture, and social customs. In this instance, the incident is little more than a gimmick on which to hang research. However, the rich and fascinating culture ultimately does come alive, and thanks to an in-depth index, readers will be able to extract the information they want and need. Glossary; bibliography. Randy Meyer
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Product Details

  • Series: What Life Was Like
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Time Life Education; 1st edition (December 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0783554532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0783554532
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book has an excellent overview of Classical Athens and Greek History. I especially liked the chapters on the different deities that the Greeks worshipped. This book is an excellent overview for those interested in learning more about this formative period in history.
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Format: Hardcover
I like this book.

However, it is not written at the adult level. It is written for older children, say, high school.

The earlier series (Time-Life Nature Library, Science Library, Great Ages of Man) were written for the college-educated layman. Their expressed purpose was to ignite a "second Enlightenment".

This series is subtly but definitely different. The very titles give the first clue: the Great Ages of Man has "The Reformation", this series has, "What Life Was Like {a bit childish even there} in Europe's Golden Age". Which one sounds more adult? Exactly.

So, the prose is well-chewed cud, suitable for minds which are not yet fully formed. Not simple, exactly, but lacking the occasional flare and more sophisticated vocabulary of their predecessors.

Additionally, there is a certain breathless quality to some of the imaginative reconstructions: Oooh, he must have been feeling this, or oh, it must have been a great moment, blahblahblah. Kids' stuff.

Buy them for the great photos and the good, solid information. But don't expect to get the same intellectual kick that you might from the earlier books. It won't happen.

I also didn't like the horizontal orientation of the books. These are books which do not fit comfortably in the hand. Yet again, quite unlike the earlier series.

Frankly speaking, if the data was not solid and if the pictures were not great, my trash can would be getting heavier.

I really like good, intelligent adult prose, and a book which is easy to read and hold. This one fails on both counts.

Buy it for the kids or the coffee table. That's it. Or cut out the pics for collage. ;-)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was in great shape and I am totally satisfied with it and the service in purchasing it.
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