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From Democrats to Kings: The Brutal Dawn of a New World from the Downfall of Athens to the Rise of Alexan Hardcover – 16 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press (16 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203910
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,074,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'[A]ccessible and punchy ... a wide readership cannot fail to be entertained as well as instructed about a world that is both familiar and alien, modern as well as ancient.' Professor Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge --Advance review on book jacket

'It's admirable of Michael Scott to shine a light on the forgotten 4th century, and he's engaging about the culture that bloomed as Athens faded.' Harry Mount
--Daily Mail, 16th October, 2009 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Scott, 27, is currently Moses and Mary Finley Fellow in Ancient History at Darwin College, Cambridge. During 2007 and 2008 he was a guest lecturer aboard the easyCruise tour of Classical Greece. He is an on-screen historical consultant for the History Channel's new series of Ancient Discoveries, due for broadcast in March 2009. From Democrats to Kings is his first book. www.michaelcscott.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr Michael Scott has identified that if there are two major events in Greek history then the Peloponnesian War and the rise of Macedon are top candidates. Like opposing poles they have attracted a lot of particles (books in this case), but between these twin lighthouses is a darker land. Into this period this book shines its light. It is a short period, covered by the life of one notable Athenian - Isocrates - but including everything from extreme democracy to saviour kings.

In an effort to jolly up the story and prevent it becoming the exclusive domain of dreadful Classics-snoots Dr Scott attempts, not always effectively, to link the events then with more modern episodes including (inevitably) the Bush years. Additionally, he adopts a strategy that will infuriate old hands but be blessed by readers new to the period. Academician Druon identified in "Les Rois Maudits" that nearly every male was a Charles, a Louis or a Philippe. Spotting the same type of problem Dr Scott keeps reminding us who are characters are with a short hand (so Xenophon starts out repeatedly as a rich young Athenian, before becoming linked to the Ten thousand). This reminds me of The Iliad where Nestor is usually accompanied by the description "King of sandy Pylos" or "The Gerenian Charioteer" in an effort to lift his name above that of the spear-carriers or spare sons of minor kings.

This style can be annoying but it is an excellent story full of notable characters. It was also very useful to view the period in its own right, rather than the space between two "stations".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Milo di Thernan on 23 Jan. 2013
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This book is very easy to read. I knew next to nothing and now know a little more. Even if it limps across the finishing line, because the last fifty pages sketch over Alexander's life with few fresh facts and little insight, most of the rest of the book is useful and easy to grasp. In particular, he undermines the reputations of Athens, Demosthenes and Sparta very effectively. I now feel prepared to tackle Plutarch's The Age of Alexander, since all nine lives are at the heart of Scott's book. As an accessible primer, I appreciate the introduction it gave me and the enthusiasm for the subject it left me with.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kuma on 19 Mar. 2011
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Michael Scott has succeeded in producing a real pocket battleship of popular history. At only around 250 pages long he has produced a work that is infinitely readable and a work that opens up a thoroughly under discussed period of history to a wider audience. The work covers the period from the Thirty Tyrants at Athens through to the conquests of Alexander and the rise of Kingship. The achievement is impressive, the period he covers often struggles for a centralised narrative, but Scott weaves his history with superb aplomb to ensure that not only do those Greek power houses such as Sparta and Athens get their say but also the experience of Western Greeks, Cyrene and Central Greeks.
That said the work is provocative (enjoyably so), Scott's engaging writing style takes a couple of chapters to get used to and it can appear slightly irreverent, I would warn those with a fondness of Sparta to be prepared for this, as the heroes of Thermopylae are given a rough ride in Scott's narrative. Athens too doesn't escape abuse (however the books timing bypassing the Peloponnesian war - allows him to avoid discussions of the demagogues) though as his starting point for democracy it receives more respect than perhaps it deserves (little discussion of how it mistreated allies e.g. cleruchies). However what really draws my respect is the well handled portrayal of Thebes, a city often shunned for not being either Sparta (agoge) or Athens (padeia) - however he rightly identifies its great contribution to the world - democratic federalism and on how it stood up to Sparta rather than Athens in the fourth century. I have also been impressed with his balanced discussion of kingship.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alice Elizabeth on 4 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a Classics undergraduate, I found this book both fun and useful. The period it covers is so little-treated elsewhere, probably partly because it's complicated, but the informal and engaging style of this book made it really possible to understand and appreciate the political turbulence of the era, whereas purely scholarly work can be simply confusing. As a student, not enough detail for writing essays from, but the perfect overview. Would probs be enjoyed by non-Classicists too because of the accessible treatment of the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Green on 30 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. It fills in the gap between the peloponesian wars and Alexander in a narrative and interesting way, unlike some of the other books covering the period. It's not a book for the specialist historian, but the enthusiastic amateur or anyone interested in the period who wants something more than unhelpful generalisation. It's a surprisingly neglected area,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Modestine on 10 Feb. 2013
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Michael Scott is a brilliant presenter of information; this book covers the period after the golden age of Athenian democracy, when things were beginning to break up and the Greek world was in flux. Without dumbing-down his information in the least, he presents the story in such an articulate and interesting way that one can follow the events of even this complex time without becoming bogged-down or confused. Bravo, Mr Scott!
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