I have a vintage copy of this which gives the game away; its price, three and six. Yes, folks, that's 17.5p in the 'New Money' and this book does indeed date from 1951. The author, educated in a pre-War world where a knowledge of the classics was taken for granted, makes none of the concessions a modern audience would expect. Kitto loves the Greeks with an undisguised passion and writes about them as if this was recent history.
Now don't get me wrong; this is an excellent piece of serious historical writing, and those who have given it 5 stars fo so for very sound reasons. If you want to know the intimate detail of every political development, its economic, social and philosophical background and artistic context from the earliest times we have record of till the decline of Greece at the time of the rise of Rome, then this book will hit the button. And it is written with a certain flair; no wonder Kitto was a best-seller in his day, when books were generally drier and the demand for illustrations far less. I calls to mind the style of A J P Taylor and Kitto does succeed in making this demanding, and at times confusing, subject matter astonishingly readable.
If you are happy with a self-consciously 'literary' style; with long pages of dense text studded with proper names; with an assumption that you are reasonably familiar with Greek literature, drama and art, have a passing acquaintance with Greek philosophers and an atlas at your elbow to help with the geography, than this is a good read. Even without too much of a classical background, I was able to get to grips with most of it and only occasionally found myself losing the plot.
However, if you like the Brittany Hughes style of presentation, with plenty of 'colour', few difficult words and events depicted in broad sweeping strokes, look elsewhere. The other issue is the unacceptable level of typos in this Kindle edition; something which is inexplicable and quite unforgivable.