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Ancient Persia Paperback – 25 May 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; New edition edition (25 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860646751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860646751
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"The book deserves to continue to serve scholars and students for many years. A strength is the emphasis it gives to evaluating sources, and its balanced approach to them all..." -John Boardman, (University of Oxford) Ancient West & East 'This book presents a historical discussion of Persia from a Near Eastern perspective. A comprehensive social, political and cultural history of ancient Persia, providing new material for specialists while being fully accessible and appealing to anyone interested in the ancient world.' -- Fred Rhodes, The Middle East "Required Reading for a look at the nature of the Persian Empire as seen by the Persians." -The Guardian

About the Author

Josef Wiesehofer is Professor of Ancient History at the Institut fur Klassische Altertumskunde at the University of Kiel, Germany, and is the author of numerous books.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
How did it happen that in the sixth century BC a Persian dynasty was able to establish a world empire on the soil of the ancient Near East - an empire that stretched as far east as the Indus and as far west as Egypt, and was to become a model for future Iranian dynasties? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Laura on 6 Oct. 2011
This book is the first I bought on the subject having become interested in Ancient Persia etc after viewing the Assyrian Palace sculptures in the British Museum.

Firstly it is larger than the average paperback, and you can tell it is a well put together book. Although the book is well written it is not out of the reach of the reader interested in the general subject, true you have to concentrate whilst reading but this is not due to the complicated language it is written in but due to the sheer amount of detailed information the author gives.

Such a good book, sutiable for both general reader and student.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 2002
Anyone interested in the history of ancient Iran simply has no other choice than to read this excellent book. Maybe it's not written for absolute beginners, but the author successfully attempts to establish a new image of Persia and the Persians. Buy it.
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49 of 68 people found the following review helpful By stevenson@dapstones.freeserve.co.uk on 27 Nov. 2001
J Wiesehofer sets out to descibe the ancient dynasties of Ancient Persia which he hopes will appeal to general readers interested in this area. Unfortunately the work he produces although undoubtedly scholarly is a very heavy read with emphasis on evidence based history. Direct translations of inscriptions and word derivations abound so breaking up what little narrative flow he achieves.He concentrates on the socio-economic background and the political machinations of the various dynasties but virtually ignores the Persians' interactions with other peoples. Readers looking for a Persian perpective on campaigns with the Assyrians or Greeks will be sorely disappointed- indeed Marathon and Thermopylae which one would imagine were extremely important turning points in the decline of the Persian empire are scarcely mentioned. I am sure this book is of value to students of this period but as a general book on the Persian Empire and its place in history, it is best avoided.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miss Dorothy Walters on 16 Jan. 2015
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Excellent reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Much Overrated 14 Aug. 2004
By Diotima - Published on Amazon.com
This is not a history of Ancient Persia but rather a set of essays on just a few topics: "The Testimonies" (i.e. the historical sources); "The King and his Subjects"; and "Everyday Life".

Basically, apart from the Behistun relief (text available at avesta.org & Wikipedia) and the Persepolis Texts (R. T. Hallock, Chicago 1969), nearly all the sources are Greek or Latin upon which the author relies despite the contrary assertion given by the publisher on the flyleaf. It's not the ancient Greek and Roman writers that the author attempts to discredit but rather the modern writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Better to read "The Persian Empire" by J. M. Cook or "A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire" by Muhammad A. Dandamaev.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
History of ancient Persia - A companion book to a college or university course 9 Sept. 2006
By Magalini Sabina - Published on Amazon.com
"Ancient Persia" is a didactic account of military and political history of ancient Persia from the Achaemenid period up to the Sassanid defeat by the Califfs. The intention of the Author is to approach this often ignored period of ancient history through new or not well known documents, since a great defect of early Persian historiography depends on the almost exclusive use of Greek and Roman documents that depict Achaemenids, Partians and Sassanids as "barbarians" (not the Selgiuchids which were practily Greek!). Unfortunately most of the documents we have on this period are actually Greek or Roman, while the scanty remaining material is archeological. So despite the intentions, this book does not add much to what already found in literature and this is a pity since the Author comes from the best archeological study group on ancient Persia that started with Carsten Niebuhr, passing through Erns Herzfeld to the present days.

History books for lay-persons require a distinctive narrative capacity. The reader often has a birdview culture of the topic but lacks precise references and approaches the text with curiosity and great expectations. Unfortunately, Wiesehofer's "Ancient Persia" is not an engrossing read eventhough it is not difficult or excessively scholastic. The Authors nominates Herodotus, Xenophon, Themistocles, Strabo, Ammiano Marcellinus and others but never explains either who they are or in what period and why they wrote. To fully appreciate the book, the reader must have these references clear and already know at least this part of the story.

The various chapters are a little sketchy and as noted by another reviewer read like essays. This makes me think that maybe they started out as lessons for students or transcriptions of debated issues in an history class.

What makes history live are episodes and anedocts and these are completely lacking in the book, so even if at the end we get a good historical perspective of the topic, little remains in the long run if not reinforced by more information.

However, this is a good reference book to have in case of an introduction to the topic because it does carry a great deal of information. The maps are explicative and the genealogies useful. The bibliography is ample.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A successful attempt at giving Ancient Persia its own voice 22 May 2011
By DJ Perso - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Let me start off, for anyone interested purely in Political history and a narrative of history of Ancient Iran, this is not the book your looking for.

What the book does is Give Ancient Iran(Persia) a voice through native sources as much as possible.
It utilizes a method to describe Ancient Iran's administrative, cultural, social and religious history.
Josef Weisenhofer first narrates and then comments on Primary sources, in chapters called Testimonies.
In testimonies, he gives more weight to sources closer to the Administration and everyday society.

He has done a Terrific job, It's a must for enthusiasts and students of Ancient Persia or Iran and world history in general.
Good book 11 Mar. 2014
By Cyrus - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If you like to read about Persian history, this is a good book to read. I have a couple other books about Persia & this fits right in with them. It's a good historical read.
Five Stars 25 Feb. 2015
By canapple - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Good paperback book
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