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Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean 2nd Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199263646
ISBN-10: 0199263647
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is the second edition of what was an excellent book in its first edition, and is now stronger and even more useful ... If you did not add the first edition to your school or college library, I recommend that you do so. If you did, the second edition should still beckon you to include it. The Journal of Classics Teaching When Deborah James reviewed the first edition of this book for JACT in 1997 she said "it beats with the pulse of modern scholarship on the ancient Mediterranean" and drew attention among other merits to the way in which the presentation of the great civilizations in this book enabled the reader to view events in context. This remains one of the great strengths of the book, and with this strength there goes the author's ability to write with skill, precision and vividness for a wide audience. The Journal of Classics Teaching

About the Author


Charles Freeman has taught ancient history in Cambridge's Adult Education program and leads study tours of Italy for the Historical Association. He is the author of The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (April 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199263647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199263646
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was one of the required texts for a course I took on ancient history. Egypt, Greece and Rome was the perfect text, because the book reads as a narrative; nothing in Charles Freeman's book is boring or dry. It covers Mesopotamia from 5000 BC up through the emergence of the Byzantine Empire in the fifth century AD. This book is the key to understanding ancient history, and I highly reccomend it.

Plus, there are a number of black and white and full-color plates, plus some in-text drawings and maps.
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I've owned this book for over a year now and still find it indispensable (I have highlighted and written in it to such an extent that I am probably the only person who can actually read my copy). Its span seems ridiculous for one book, even though it is pretty long (about 650 pages, plus an excellent 27 page time line), but it gives one a great understanding of the Mediterranean World's evolution, starting not only from Archaic Greece, the unification of Egypt and its First Dynasties, but from the earliest settlements, the earliest urban settlements, and earliest cities in the Ancient Near East, which of course set many precedents (if not THE precedent) for those civilizations after which the book is named. In fact, the initial chapter is an excellent, thorough -- yet still very nuanced and fascinating to read -- overview of the first cities and cultures that sprang up in that region, from the cities of Sumer and Uruk, to the Akkadians (and Sargon the Great, generally accepted as history's first emperor), the early Israelites, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, and all the way to the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

Conservative/orthodox views are presented alongside liberal views, and "revisionist" theories are -- refreshingly -- given equal credence as well. Many currently accepted consensuses about the Ancient World held by Classicists, Anthropologists, and Historians have traveled from (often laughable...) beginnings, and many of those evolutions are presented here in a way almost as interesting as the way in which the Roman Civil Wars are portrayed. If intrigued by a certain topic or period, the reader is constantly referred to the names of scholars and authors, both well-known and obscure, whose works they may also find interesting.
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This is a great intro book on ancient civilizations around the mediterranean. While the subtitle is Egypt, Greece & Rome, the author goes into other, older and more distant cultures as well. The chapters are short and leisurely - you get a good feel for each section without being buried in details.
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I wanted to get a good birds eye overview of classic antiquity, get a sense of continuity and fill the gaps in my knowledge. After some failed attempts, I found this book. It exceeded my expectations. I read the book from cover to cover, but it can also be used as a great reference (the chapters are self-contained and make references to other chapters in the book when necessary).

Besides covering specifics periods, the book attempts to show the interrelations of the different processes and-the main theses of the author-how continuity rather than great "revolutions" shaped classical history. The book covers not only political and military history but also cultural history. Culture shapes the historical continuity process, and the examples are many; religious development and influence across the whole Mediterranean and the Near East; the influence of Greek philosophy in politics in the roman empire and in the theology of Christianity; and more.

Since the chapters cover specific topics (Freeman doesn't fall in the error of trying to write chronologically) the book is also very useful as a reference. Each chapter ends with a complete bibliographic essay with references of specific periods or topics.

Freeman's style is dynamic and engaging, and impressive achievement for the amount of history he covers in this book.
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Freeman is a good author, and the book is well worth reading; although much of the material is familiar to anyone who knows ancient history in general, there are many details which are presented in the light of recent research and shown in a somewhat new light. He covers Mediterranean history from the Sumerians to the fall of Rome, and for such a huge sweep of time he does a reasonably good job. However there is something very peculiar about this particular copy, and one wonders whether the entire second edition suffers this defect? Or other editions?

This is the second edition, an inexpensive used copy (since we only paid 3 bucks it's hard to complain too much), and it is defective in a specific way that does suggest the possibility of some... hmm, go figure. Chapter 24 on the "Origins of Christianity" is missing in its entirety, with a page or two from each adjacent chapter missing as well; the entire 30-plus pages is replaced with a duplicate set of the following pages. As you probably know from Freeman's other books, he is a severe and knowledgeable critic of the politics of early Christianity (see his "Closing of the Western Mind" for a detailed account.) Why is this particular chapter missing? Draw your own conclusions... but how did this occur anyway, in the 21st century? somewhere in the printing process... son of a gun! oh well. I will purchase another edition or write to the author to request a pdf of the missing chapter.
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