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Ancient Greece: An Illustrated History (Illustrated National Histories) Paperback – August, 1979
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Every Classical book I have picked up bored me, besides the Peloponnesian and Persian Wars. This is almost definitely a result of being Greek and being forced to learn Leonidas the way Americans are forced to learn the Constitution pre-amble and the French and Indian War. That and a really old, bad professor during my first morning class in my very first semester in college.
Green has the talent of making peace as interesting as war in the Greek world. Green is probably the best writer on Greece, and this is coming from a Greek. He writes how Greek politics haven't changed much, he wrote this book during the tragic days of Military Dictatorship of the early 70's and as I write this December of 2008, Communists and Anarchist riots are burning Athens. The same old "stasis", and I just took a line of his that was as true when he wrote it in 1973, when tanks crushed kids, as it is true today. The country never has and may never be able to meet the economic needs of the nation without stasis, internecine war or emigration to colonies.
Crete, Greece, and the Greek cities of Asia Minor.
From the outset he acquaints the reader with the interpreting of
physical artefacts, texts and also the impact of geography and
He draws on insights from images on ceramic, emphasizes the larger
contributions of written records, and points out for the student where
speculation must stop. For example, despite passionate and clashing
assertions, nobody really knows what the "Archaic smile" signifies on
statues from Miletus, though Miletus' philosophical currents were of
What drew me in to the book was the early geographical theme. Mr.
Green links the Greek proclivity to open-air discourse and oratory to
the abundance of clear weather, and matches class differences to the
different uses of the land.
This approach pays off in the telling of Athens' political feuding and
Cleisthenes' redistribution of tribes in 508, after which he says
"Athenian democracy had at last come of age."
Professor Green's specialty is the 4th century BC.
This book delivers more concepts more rapidly than other survey
works such as the Pelican Greek Ancient History.
If one reads the review below you'll note that I did not trash this book, I pointed out that it was lacking evidence and topics btut also how it might best be used in a classroom. I'm a college instructor so I think in terms of what I would use in a history class and how best to use it. I stand by what I said below because I'm comparing the book to others of its type, and this book is not the best (that would earn 5 stars).
You should also note the "?" in my title -- you are entitled to your own opinions but when people start sending me nasty private emails about my reviews, I can only feel sorry for their lack of professionalism.
For the specialist, Green's book is too concise, short on evidence to support all of his "facts". However, for the introductory history class, it might be a good book if supplemented by cultural and social history by the instructor. It is clear that Green's area of specialization is not ancient Greece but he is knowledgable nonetheless.