Ours is not the first 'civilization.' That may be an obvious statement but it is one important for any human to be able to say to itself. 'A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization' is an authoritative examination of that word 'civilization' from the Minoan palaces of Knossos roughly 1900 BCE to the fall of Rome 410 CE.
Stephen Kershaw does not simply cover the major events, times and dates but goes into detail in respect of how people were in any particular time. Whilst I enjoyed reading how war was such a part of life I could also understand how such far away times resonate exactly with history as it has unfolded in my lifetime. And how radically different they once were. Marriage, slavery, sex, working conditions; all are relayed in Kershaw's coherent narrative.
Of special interest to me was the stark contrast of civilizations that were the Athenian and Spartan ways of living. Side by side, in the same time period. The Athenian free-traders and dynamic creativity as opposed to the rigid upbringing of men in Sparta: 'they almost completely rejected economic activity.' Their inability to adapt was their downfall.
For those, like me, who have wondered about ancient times but have not really known where to start in respect of getting a hook on the period of time I heartily recommend 'A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization.' The analysis of pottery, text, architecture is careful to understand how people treated each other in any given 'civilization.' For less than a pound in the spring Kindle Sale (ending April 12) it is great value for money. You will read it right through.