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From Democrats to Kings: The Brutal Dawn of a New World from the Downfall of Athens to the Rise of Alexander the Great Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd; 1st Edition edition (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848310730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848310735
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 898,315 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

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

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Customer Reviews

3.9 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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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 P. J. Dunn on 28 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
This entertainingly, and informatively, filled a massive gap in my knowledge of ancient Greece. Before reading it I really could not have told you anything about the period between the 30(1) Spartans at Thermopylae and Alexander the Great. In particular I now know an awful a lot more about Thebes than I did before (which was diddly squat if I am honest...). Highly recommended.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was prepared to love this book, jusy because of its topic which, as another reviewer aptly called "the Bit in between". However, the way it is written (and I don't only mean the poor quality English) is annoying and simply unbearable at times. To force myself to finish it, and not throw it away, I even started counting how many gripes I had: it added up to a grand total of 128 for a book that has 255 pages.

Now I won't go on to describe all of time but will only present a sample, so that you know what to expect and are not surprised.
- First of all come the multiple anacronyms, with the author coming up with whatever comparison with modern events that crosses his mind, even if many of the parallels are deeply flawed. One of his favorites seem to be "the tearing down of the Berlin Wall", which is compared, rather ineply given the very different contexts, to the Athenians having to tear down theirs at the end of the Great War against Sparta. Another one, which I personnaly found rather difficult to stomach, was to compare Athens after the end of the war and "Germany after the fall of Nazism." A third was Athens fighting its Viêtnam War against Macedonia in Northern Greece. And the list could go on, and on, and on...

- Second is the tying in of multiple modern expressions, such as the "final nail in the coffin" or the "fan club" of such and such, or comparing orators to rock stars and actors and playrights to "superstars" with their own trades unions and who were sent on embassies just as today famous actors or often (really often?) recruited as goodwill ambassadors by the UN. Here again, there are pages and pages, with multiple references to modern films such as 300 (which had little to do with reality - the film, I mean) or refereneces to MM.
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