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Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities Hardcover – 22 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (22 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199233381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199233380
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.5 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Cartledge's success lies in his ability to negotiate a path between similarity and difference; with proper scholarly detachment, he stresses how different the Greeks were; with an eye to broader historical trajectories, he reflects on the grounds for their continuing fascination. (Tim Rood, Times Literary Supplement)

A rare work, a compelling historical narrative. (Peter Stothard, Wall Street Journal)

Thoroughly stimulating book. (Tom Holland, BBC History)

Cartledge is master of his subject. (Peter Jones, Literary Review)

Paul Cartledge... once again shows why he is the surest and most engaging guide to the ancient world. (Justin Marozzi, Evening Standard)

A tremendously readable tour d'horizon that goes far beyond Athens and Sparta to explore the roots of Greek civilization. (Justin Marozzi, Evening Standard)

There are many pleasures to be had along Cartledge's mind-broadening route through time and space. (Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian)

About the Author

Paul Cartledge is A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at Clare College, Cambridge. Over the course of his distinguished career he has written and edited numerous books on the ancient Greek world, including

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By N. P. Collins on 26 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
The signature of a good history book is to be both scholarly and readable. I think this hits the spot. Here is a man clearly at home with his material and writes with clarity and authority as well as a little dose of fun from time to time. He also de mystifies some terminology for the beginner. This is probably not a book for the expert but as an intoduction to Ancient Greece it is a very good start. I also like to read a story covering a wide expanse of time with a theme. The theme here is cities. Themes help to bind a story together and it works in this case. I quickly compared other books covering similar periods and it stands up very well. It is, however, disapointingly short, disapointing becaue he writes well, something not every historian is good at. Very readable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book a while ago. I read it, liked it, adn have turned to it again as a starting point (but not a reference) when wanting to know more about one of the cities that it mentions. This book is however somewhat hard to rate.

I found the concept great and rather original: summarize the history of Greece (about twlve centuties of it) through the presentation and history of 11 cities (not all of which can be termed as "greek"). However, the execution was rather problematic and the author, having been limited to less than 200 pages, was always going to face a major problem when dealing with so much content in so little space.

To some, this book might seem to be too little and sometimes superficial because a whole book (or several, bearing in mind what Cartledge himself has done for Sparta) could probably have been written for each city. For others, this might be too much, not because of the size, but because the author mixes up a high level summary with quite a lot of details and some explanations that you might not expect to find in such a small book. This problem has, to some extent, already been alluded to by another reviewer when mentioning that the target audience seemed to be undefined. I am not quite sure about that because the book, given its size, clearly does not attempt to be comprehensive and, because it is very accessible, well written, easy to read and portable, clearly seems to have been targeted at the general reader.

If I am correct in my assumption, then it is worth four stars. I am, however, among the ones who would have wanted to learn more (much more!) on each of the cities and their specifics so I hesitated and almost rated it three stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Day on 22 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A most interesting and absorbing sketch of Greek history, as seen through the perspective of the cities chosen for specific treatment. This is a deceptive volume : thin in terms of pages, but certainly not in terms of its content.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Ancient Greece is one of the most fascinating and intriguing historical polities. The very notion of Greece as a single political and cultural entity is a relatively modern designation. The ancient Greeks had organized their life within a polis, a self-containing "city state," of which there had been hundreds throughout the ancient history, spanning almost all of northern Mediterranean. So when we talk about ancient Greece what we really have in mind is the history of these poleis - their origin, development, and eventual decline and disappearance in the late antiquity. A book that would cover all of the poleis would be a gargantuan project, and would surpass in length all the volumes in the very short introduction series. Instead, Paul Cartledge, the author of this short introduction, focuses on just eleven poleis, picking some that are the most representative of the ancient Greek history as a whole.

Overall, this book is a good introduction to ancient Greece, and all hellenophiles will find a lot of interesting information in it. Through the general introduction and the individual chapters for each polis, we learn about the development of ancient Greek society, through its golden years and the epic wars that it engaged in, to the later not-too-illustrious years. The choice of topics is fairly representative, and Cartledge exhibits an impressive range of knowledge and understanding of this subject.

One big issue that I have with this book concerns its structure and organization. The choice of presenting the history of ancient Greece in a "parallel" fashion, by focusing on each polis in its own right, leads to a very disjoined overall narrative. It can be had to follow various developments as they recur in different chapters, with all the variations that this entails.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Silverjay on 13 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
I have to admit my reason for buying was trying to get a very quick overview in a very short time, which, I've come to realise, was not why this book was written...It seems, as other have said, that academics are allowed to create/design a short introduction on their own expert topic, and do with it what they will...which is fine, but not what I thought was being advertised here.
Cartledge I've heard speak before, and he was very interesting which, along with his reputation, is one of the reasons I bought the book. However, his prose is - well, I think some have been kind and called it erudite and convoluted. It's certainly not easy to read, and at times seems written more for himself than an audience: it's that kind of personal style that shows you how the author's thoughts connect together, which, of course, some might find interesting. I didn't.
As others have already said, the division into city-states rather than a broad narrative interwoven with foci on individual city states threw me: really didn't find it helpful at all.
So, for me, interesting, but not 'essential' reading: there are better titles in the series (I'd recommend The Roman Republic) and I hope to try one of Cartledge's 'proper' books and see if there's a difference. Hard to believe such an interesting speaker writes like that and, moreover, that an editor has passed it!
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