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The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome Hardcover – March 17, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
that make this so enjoyable. Ms. Bauer lets her personality and wit shine, unlike most historians who cloak their
humanness in dry academic language. To give a taste of what I mean:
Page 269: We learn the entomology of the word "Nimrod" from a king's name in Gen. 10:10 to a term for a failed and ineffectual
person via Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
Page 308: Describing the seduction of an ancient Indian Queen Mother..."When she was a young girl another wise man cornered her
on a boat....and "prevailed over" her, after promising her that she would still be a virgin afterwards, a useful pick-up line unfortunately
available only to magicians.(The queen mother also adds, apropos of nothing, "Till then my body had emitted a revolting odor of fish, but the sage dispelled it and endowed me with a fragrance that I now have- a detail which we should perhaps leave unexplored.)"
Page 246: A long footnote begins "You might wonder why" and then gives a very complicated genealogy of King Tut's family. It then adds."Or you
may not have wondered at all."
I hope this gives a flavor of this unique and comprehensive history. I love overviews which I can then follow up in depth with the events that
interest me the most.
Rulers and Empires is her only story, but she tells it well; the book is a pleasant read, and the author deserves full credit both for the huge effort involved in producing such a volume, and for the accuracy (the undoubted product of years of sleepless nights spent digesting hundreds of primary reference works) of her narrative. I liked the book, and enjoyed reading it. But it is very limited. There is a kind of imbalance, and tunnel-vision, that becomes more apparent the more one reflects on it. This is a book that has no fewer than eight index entries on Merodach-baladan, an obscure 8th century BC king of Babylon, but not one word on Euclid, and only two sentences on the Parthenon!
To sum up, Bauer's volume, while competently written, perversely omits nearly all of the artistic and intellectual achievements of the ancient world, that alone make that world truly great and worthy of study.
Of course, the author's approach implies choosing a somehow narrow scope: no social or economic history is included, although some religious flavour is, for she masterly uses the myths of each civilization as clues to understand its politics. Taking that into account, I would reccomend also to read (as a complement to this book) "The History of Government. Volume I. Ancient Monarchies and Empires" by S.E. Finer, "Life after Death. A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion" by Alan F. Segal and "Gem in the Lotus.The Seeding of Indian Civilisation" by Abraham Eraly, to mention but a few.
In choosing to simply accept that the vast majority of our available records cover the rulers of the ancient era at the expense of almost any documentation on the lives of the common man, Bauer weaves a narrative that covers that which we reasonably know in a lively, fast-moving fashion, pulling off the tricky feat of acknowledging the gaps in the historical record without getting bogged down in them. The primary movers of the ancient era come alive as the author takes us on a trip through the Sumerian List of Kings, the Bible as a historical document, the disappointing dearth of records of ancient Indian civilizations, and the wealth of Greek and Roman sources. The small, manageable chapters each cover a logically broken-up chunk of a given region's history, with helpful charts at the end of each showing the overlap in events between the current chapter's region and the same timeframe for the previous chapter's region.
Ms Bauer's style of writing is also commendable. She has a lively sense of phrasing that keeps the reader moving through the centuries at a fast clip. Some of her footnotes are actually chuckle-worthy, which helps to break up the overall slog of warfare, drought, famine, enslavement, et al.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The History of the Ancient World is encyclopaedic - and therein lies all its flaws and virtues.
In a way, this massive work appears like a long list of things that... Read more
I listened to it on Audible, Bauer gives a marvellous oversight of ancient history. Recommended to anyone else interested in history.Published 1 month ago by Rebekka K. Steg
Love this seller. I am never disappointed. As ALWAYS, I'll be back.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I want to read this book but the price on a n Amazon's site is false. A lie. Kindle prices= $19.84. Also says print and digital price is $35. Save $15.16! A big fat lie! Read morePublished 1 month ago by N. Meyer
This is probably one of the most comprehensive and interesting collections of various histories that exists in the mainstream now. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Chanzy
I love this book. Susan Wise Bauer has managed to do what a bunch of years in school and a couple of degrees could not do- make history interesting and entertaining for me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Krusse
Very good book about ancient civilizations of Egypt, Fertile Crescent Greece Rome, India and China Bauer uses the written record to good effectPublished 2 months ago by Joan Lathan
Good, succinct capsules on a broad range of topics. Easy to read and digest.Published 2 months ago by Stephen H.