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Jesper Jensen

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The Elgin Marbles: The Story of the Parthenon and Archaeology's Greatest Controversy
The Elgin Marbles: The Story of the Parthenon and Archaeology's Greatest Controversy
by Dorothy King
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and superb treatment of this complex and very controversial subject, 13 April 2006
Much has been said and written about this book already. To be honest, the discussions and angry reviews clearly show two main points: the reviewers have clearly not read this fine book, but they base their sharp criticism on one or two lines taken out of their context which they have most probably read in newspaper or internet articles. Most of the discussions in newspaper articles and reviews are filled with angry personal emotions against Dr. Dorothy King. Their anger is caused by the fact that she argues against the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. This is, indeed, a very controversial position. However, personal opinions are permissible in modern Europe. At any rate, the readers should do justice to the content of the book and read all of it, instead of only reading isolated excerpts illustrating Dorothy King's personal views on the Elgin Marbles.

The book consists of 18 chapters beginning with a prelude, a very useful ten-page bibliography for the interested reader, and it closes with a fifteen-page index making it very simple to look up any reference in the book. It gives a general introduction to the history of Athens before concentrating on the history of the Parthenon and its sculptures. The chapters on the later history of the Parthenon and especially the history of its marble sculpture better known as the Elgin Marbles show Dr. King's profound knowledge of the subject and the inside history of the politics regarding these controversial marbles.

Thus, she has demonstrated that a very difficult subject can be put forward in such a way that everybody can appreciate its complexity, and she has done it with an extraordinary grace. She has not only described the history of the Elgin Marbles, but she also written an important contribution to the ancient and modern history of Athens. In general, the book is very well-written, and the language is clear and precise. It is simply a must for the readers interested in Athenian history and not least Classical Archaeology.

Jesper Jensen

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