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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Glory of Greece
Ancient Greece is one of the most fascinating and intriguing historical polities. The very notion of Greece as a single political and cultural entity is a relatively modern designation. The ancient Greeks had organized their life within a polis, a self-containing "city state," of which there had been hundreds throughout the ancient history, spanning almost all of northern...
Published on 23 Feb. 2012 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-So
I have to admit my reason for buying was trying to get a very quick overview in a very short time, which, I've come to realise, was not why this book was written...It seems, as other have said, that academics are allowed to create/design a short introduction on their own expert topic, and do with it what they will...which is fine, but not what I thought was being...
Published 21 months ago by Silverjay


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Glory of Greece, 23 Feb. 2012
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Ancient Greece is one of the most fascinating and intriguing historical polities. The very notion of Greece as a single political and cultural entity is a relatively modern designation. The ancient Greeks had organized their life within a polis, a self-containing "city state," of which there had been hundreds throughout the ancient history, spanning almost all of northern Mediterranean. So when we talk about ancient Greece what we really have in mind is the history of these poleis - their origin, development, and eventual decline and disappearance in the late antiquity. A book that would cover all of the poleis would be a gargantuan project, and would surpass in length all the volumes in the very short introduction series. Instead, Paul Cartledge, the author of this short introduction, focuses on just eleven poleis, picking some that are the most representative of the ancient Greek history as a whole.

Overall, this book is a good introduction to ancient Greece, and all hellenophiles will find a lot of interesting information in it. Through the general introduction and the individual chapters for each polis, we learn about the development of ancient Greek society, through its golden years and the epic wars that it engaged in, to the later not-too-illustrious years. The choice of topics is fairly representative, and Cartledge exhibits an impressive range of knowledge and understanding of this subject.

One big issue that I have with this book concerns its structure and organization. The choice of presenting the history of ancient Greece in a "parallel" fashion, by focusing on each polis in its own right, leads to a very disjoined overall narrative. It can be had to follow various developments as they recur in different chapters, with all the variations that this entails. Furthermore, the style of writing also leaves a lot to be desired. Sentences are often highly convoluted, with frequent allusions, digressions, parenthetical asides, parentheses proper, and even parentheses within parentheses! Cartledge is never the one to use a simple statement when a more complex one would suffice. He also strives a bit too hard to exhibit his own wit and erudition whenever possible. The result is a bit contorted narrative that doesn't flow very smoothly. Overall, however, this is a pretty good book and I feel I got a lot of interesting insights from it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-So, 13 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I have to admit my reason for buying was trying to get a very quick overview in a very short time, which, I've come to realise, was not why this book was written...It seems, as other have said, that academics are allowed to create/design a short introduction on their own expert topic, and do with it what they will...which is fine, but not what I thought was being advertised here.
Cartledge I've heard speak before, and he was very interesting which, along with his reputation, is one of the reasons I bought the book. However, his prose is - well, I think some have been kind and called it erudite and convoluted. It's certainly not easy to read, and at times seems written more for himself than an audience: it's that kind of personal style that shows you how the author's thoughts connect together, which, of course, some might find interesting. I didn't.
As others have already said, the division into city-states rather than a broad narrative interwoven with foci on individual city states threw me: really didn't find it helpful at all.
So, for me, interesting, but not 'essential' reading: there are better titles in the series (I'd recommend The Roman Republic) and I hope to try one of Cartledge's 'proper' books and see if there's a difference. Hard to believe such an interesting speaker writes like that and, moreover, that an editor has passed it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the tin, basically!, 26 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
A Very Short Introduction to Ancient Greece is just what it says it is: a very short introduction. I bought this book completely in the dark about who the ancient Greeks were or what they did, and this does shed some light and begin painting a picture, but due to word limits and other things, I found myself having to do external research many times just to figure out what on earth the author was referring to.

Very short introductions for topics as vast as Ancient Greece are generally a bad idea. If you can only find time to read on the bus/train and need a pocket sized book, go for this one. If you have more time to kick back and really learn, I would suggest you go and find a more detailed book. I want to be clear: I have no solid complaint; I knew what I was getting in for when I bought the book. I only have a surface interest in Greek history, but for others who want to learn more in-depth, then this short introduction is just a little too short!

The way the author approaches the history is by having a chapter on several major settlements. This is a unique method and the author should be applauded for his intuition, but it gets confusing as one chapter can talk about events that happened much later, and vice versa. Luckily there is a time line at the back for clarity.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Greece, 9 Aug. 2014
By 
Lorraine (Worcestershire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
A bit hard going but ideal as an introduction if interested in ancient Greece.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misled, 18 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
For its size - what does one expect from a book of this length - it's reasonably informative. Don't buy it if you favour narrative history. Why do I feel misled? Because not long ago I bought 'Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities'. I imagined that 'Ancient Greece: A Very Short Intro...' was a different read. They are one and the same book, under different titles. Readers, don't make the same mistake. Amazon, please led shoppers know that the two books are the same. No chance of getting my six quid back, eh?
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