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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting, Comprehensive and Compelling Read!
It took me years to track this book down having seen the BBC documentary as a child - I was not disapointed. I'm a complete newcomer to Greek History and found the size of the subject daunting. However, Michael Wood's book on the Trojan War conveys his enthusiasm, which is contagious, and couldn't be any clearer in setting out the arguments regarding the siting and...
Published on 3 Aug 2001

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1 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars review of transaction
Book described as new, but was average to poor and even had a number of written comments by readers in it. Item came quickly though.
Published on 28 Jun 2009 by David J. Best


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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting, Comprehensive and Compelling Read!, 3 Aug 2001
By A Customer
It took me years to track this book down having seen the BBC documentary as a child - I was not disapointed. I'm a complete newcomer to Greek History and found the size of the subject daunting. However, Michael Wood's book on the Trojan War conveys his enthusiasm, which is contagious, and couldn't be any clearer in setting out the arguments regarding the siting and dating of the Trojan War and the questions raised by Homer's 'Iliad' (eg. is it a literal account? Is the poem the work of one man or a several poets over a period of time?)
The unravelling of such a mystery should be exciting and he conveys this easily. The results of the original excavations by Schlieman in the late 1800's and the implications for later generations of archaeoligist's in the way he worked are explained and the story is brought right up-to-date with more recent digs by Manfred Korfman and also the discovery of the so-called 'Jewels of Helen' which disappeared in the Second World War.
It's a huge subject and he clearly explains how it also links into Arthur Evans' work in Crete with the Palace of Knossos and the search by others for the Palace of Agamemnon at Mycenae (One of the key-players in the Trojan War).The book also dispelled my initial worry that I would not be able to follow the arguements relating the dating of the finds and different civilisations. Simple diagrams and tables are included for easy reference.
It has formed an excellent platform for me to explore further in this field of history. I have gone on to read Homer's 'Iliad', Leonard Cottrell's 'Bull of Knossos' and 'The Lion Gate' alongwith Schliemann's 'Troy and It's Remains' and Susan Heuck Allen's 'Finding the Walls of Troy'.
Best of all these though, is still my loveworn copy of this particular book. Thank-you Michael Wood for bringing this subject to life!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, lucid and vivid., 8 May 2002
Michael Wood is brave enough to take the necessary leap of imagination to bring all the mythical elements together and make real sense of them. Throughly researched, he provides common sense reasons for the cause of the Trojan war but at the same time the book is totally compelling and moving. It is also very well produced and illustrated.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading for history buffs, 18 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Michael Wood tackles this complicated subject with his usual panache. The book is excellent for the fascinated amateur but is sufficiently scholarly for the academic. It traces the subject matter and sources of the Trojan myth and possible implications for factual history. Named sites and individuals are investigated minutely. Mr Wood follows a carefully thought out route to his conclusions. An excellent read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A city `ground to dust'" (both original & new editions compared), 10 Aug 2010
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
I bought the original hardback edition (1985) when the TV series was shown. I bought the latest (2008) paperback edition in order to catch up with the latest developments. The book contains much more than appeared in the series - the six episodes are expanded into eight chapters - but whilst the first edition was profusely illustrated with figures and photographs, the paperback has just a solitary map. This is a serious drawback for those coming to this book for the first time. For instance, the hardback edition has an extremely useful diagram showing the layers of the city from 3600 BCE to 1500 CE, as well as details of Spratt's map of 1839, helpful plans, and a rich source of archive photographs. When Wood describes the gold objects that Schliemann uncovered at Mycenae, one craves for a view but only the hardback has the colour plates that will satisfy.

In his new preface Wood notes that, "The first edition of this book told the story of the three great excavations ... Each claimed to have answered the riddle of the Trojan War, though each found a different war in a different level of the site. None has been universally accepted as solving the mystery." The last dig was in 1938, but an extensive new excavation led by Manfred Korfmann - Wood writes that his name "will now take its place alongside the greats of the past" - commenced at the site in 1988. Wood notes that, "Already, it is safe to say, a number of outstanding problems about Troy seem likely to be resolved." And it is with relief that Wood points out that these new excavations have not disproved his speculations of twenty year before; "indeed, if anything they seem more, rather than less likely to be correct." Wood has added a final chapter to his original book and the bibliography has been updated too.

Most of the new evidence is contained in a fifteen-page postscript, entitled `The Trojan War Found Again?'. Here he refers to the finds made at Besika Bay (including the tomb of Achilles?), and the continuity of settlement at Troy after its fall. He also reviews the new evidence from the Hittite sources and the resulting effect on his theories. He concludes that, "the hypothesis of a historical Troy and Trojan War is now stronger" but that the search is far from over.

As for the bulk of the book, it is word-for-word the same as the original, save for a few minor changes to make the narrative - and his dating - tauter, to remove errors or add new facts, or to subtly change emphasis. For example, we now have "early societies" in place of "primitive societies"; Pharaoh Amenophis III is replaced by Akhenaten; the word `Sanskrit' has been added to Celtic, Germanic, and Greek in the list of languages linked to that of the Hittites; and Schliemann is no longer "a liar" but "a teller of tall stories", although Wood otherwise refers to the "lies" he told. Some areas of text have been completely rewritten, such as the last few sentences of chapter five and quite a few lines on the Hittites. Seven long paragraphs have also been inserted in the chapter on the end of the Greek Bronze Age, augmenting his speculation. Unfortunately, the revision of the paperback edition still openly refers to "photographs (some of which appear in this book". No they don't!

It would have been useful to have in the margins references to the relevant book and lines of `The Iliad' when direct allusions are made to Homer in the text. Apart from the lack of illustrations and maps, another aspect of the new edition that does not do it justice is the revised index.

This book was a pleasure to read again, despite the moans I make about its shoddy new presentation. He is very persuasive in his interpretation of the Mycenaean world and the causes of the Trojan War, and has strengthened his case with reference to the ongoing work on the Hittite tablets. He writes that the controversy over these still rages, but his belief in his identifications of the Greeks and of Troy within them hold firmly. We have a whole chapter devoted to the Hittites and their records. Wood declares that, "If we cannot prove that the Trojan War happened as Homer says, we can at least show that something like it could have happened."

Five stars for the original hardback edition; three stars for the new paperback edition; four stars overall. I would recommend buying both, the paperback for the new evidence, the hardback for the illustrations and maps (the original can be bought very cheaply second-hand).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wood continues to strike home, 17 May 2009
By 
Paul Burton (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
This is the book of the TV series that first brought Michael Wood to public attention. His style is eminently readable and he provides a very succint guide to the history of Trojan studies, from classical scholarship through the groundbreakling work of Schliemann and his successors through to the latest work from Hisarlik and other sites; In the process he outlines the development of Trojan War theory as it evolved over a century and a half. By bringing in details about the related work at Mycenae and other sites he provides a solid base from which to speculate aout the possible courses of any 'historical' Trojan war. He makes it clear where he is being speculative and provides supporting evidence to his arguments.
My only criticism of the paperback edition is that the illustrations referred to are not included. The centre block of photographs has been excluded from this edition, while references in the text remain. However this is a minor irritation and the important maps are present.
The written style is very approachable, as one would expect from one of TVs most prominent populariser of history, and this book is an ecellent starting point from which to begin your studies of the Trojan War (and how it relates to the major near east powers of Egypt and the Hittites.).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A succinct search for the history behind the Trojan War, 20 Aug 2011
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
The Trojan War holds a grip on the imagination like few other events in mythology. Part of the modern interest in the myth is due to the startling confirmation over the past century that Troy was a real place, located exactly where the legend puts it, with even minor details of topography from Homer's text backed up by archaeological evidence. This makes Troy a fascinating subject to discuss, but also a dangerous one: it's too easy to let the imagination run riot and conclude that perhaps the legend is a true story, that Agamemnon and Achilles were real people, and the survivors of Troy did go on to found Rome.

Back in the mid-1980s Michael Wood produced a TV documentary for the BBC based on the premise that the Trojan War was a real even that took place approximately in the 12th Century BC. This accompanying book and its later second and third editions expanded on the idea: Wood proposes that Troy was a client-state of the Hittite Empire that fell prey to a series of incursions into Asia Minor by the Greeks, at that time dominated by Mycenae. Mycenae was reaching the zenith of its power and in fact would soon face a rapid decline and collapse. In one of its last expansions of power it tried to expand its empire into the Near East whilst the Hittites were distracted by clashes with the Egyptians, Assyrians and other neighbouring powers, and Troy was one of the cities destroyed in the process.

Wood outlines the 'discovery' of the site of Troy (a hill in Turkey a few miles from the Dardanelles called Hisarlik) by the early archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the mid-19th Century and the work by Schliemann and others in uncovering the site and other notable contemporary locations, including Mycena. Wood describes the problems associated with these digs, which tended to be rushed and even destructive ("Schliemann has left us with the ruin of a ruin," he laments at one point) before later, more careful archaeologists could work on the sites. Accompanied by illustrations and numerous photographs of the site (some modern, some from Schliemann's time), Wood describes in clear detail the problems presented by the fact that Troy is divided into 'layers', with the city inhabited both before and after the time of the alleged Trojan War, and dating the war to the correct layer is problematic (both the sixth and seventh layers have been proposed as 'Homer's Troy', and both have issues fitting that conclusion).

After this, Wood expands the scope to incorporate the entire Eastern Mediterranean at the time of the 12th-13th centuries BC. This was a time of surprisingly frequent international relations: the Hittite, Egyptian and Assyrian rulers tended to correspond with one another directly (and, less frequently with their more distant Mycenaean neighbours) and trade flourished between their nations (with wars - even large ones - put down as minor and temporary disagreements, soon mended). Amusingly, there are even surviving tablets featuring the Hittite queen exchanging minor court gossip with Ramses II, one of the greatest Egyptian pharaohs. Unfortunately, the record is frustratingly incomplete, and Greek-Hittite discussions over a troublesome matter in the west which resulted in military activity (a clash over the city of Wilusa, and notably the Greek of Homer's time doesn't use the 'W', meaning he would have called it 'Ilusa', which is close to 'Ilium') are particularly fragmented.

Wood describes the situation well, first exploring the archaeological unearthing of Troy and other important sites. He describes the work and research done that uncovered the Hittites, a mighty empire of the ancient world that had fallen so completely that evidence of its existence was only uncovered a century ago, and how they provided a 'missing link' that explained the balance of power of the time. Sites contemporaneous with Troy are explored and shared pottery remnants and tablets written in the same languages are used to trace a network of trade and political relations between cities and nations. Pottery and pictures of the time depicting siege engines as stylised giant wooden horses smashing down city walls provide clues as to the origin of the Trojan Horse legend. But every time a conclusion seems to drift into view, it's frustratingly snatched away by a gap in the records.

Woods' solution to this is to present 'scenarios' which he acknowledges are highly speculative but nevertheless credible. The problem is a lack of specific mentions or references to Troy in the historical record of the time. Wood suggests that the evidence supports a more widespread incursion into Asia Minor by the Greeks, with Troy as a minor sideshow at best, and this is supported by strong evidence that the Greeks had an enclave on the shores of south-western Anatolia around the city of Miletus. However, the evidence that the Greeks launched attacks in north-western Asia Minor is much more limited.

This is the book's greatest weakness: whilst discoveries at Troy, Mycenae and in the old Hittite ruins have resulted in some spectacular revelations over the last century, and expose a fascinating and more complex world than Homer suggests, they also stop short of giving us enough data to draw solid conclusions about the Trojan War. Wood seems to reluctantly agree with this in the final assessment: that having gone in search of the Trojan War, he can only prove that it could have happened, but no more than that. But the uncertainty allows for the myth of the Trojan War to live on, awaiting more archaeological discoveries to illuminate the time.

In Search of the Trojan War (****) is a well-researched book that succinctly (in less than 300 pages) provides an overview of the archaeological history of the region and allows Wood to present the evidence for his broad conclusions about the period. Occasionally he gets drawn a little too far down the path of 'speculative' musings rather than sticking strictly with the evidence, but these musings are well-signposted in advance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trojan War: CSI, 3 Jun 2010
By 
Filthy Raider "Filthy Raider" (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
So did the Siege of Troy actually happen?

I have to confess I had the wrong impression of this book when it arrived, expecting a 'history of the Trojan War'. What it is, is a detailed delve by Woods into the evidence that the Trojan War did or did not happen.

Did Homer (and was he a 'he'or a 'they')write (or sing!) about true events or were they a collection of stories brought together about varying events with no real truth.

Looking into history, culture, geography, topography, archeology........this is clearly a tour de force. I won't throw in any 'spoilers', but some of the background work is excellent and enlightening.

As a later paperback edition it is also revised with additional additions as new finds and discoveries have been made since the original publication in hardback.

What it lacks is illustration and photos. Woods discusses finds made that truly need some sort of representation and apart from a few scant maps the book is lacking in that area only. Some of the text actually refers to photos that are not there!

So if you, like me, are the layman looking for an insite into the Trojan War - read Homer. If you want a 'Time Team' type look into the WHOLE overall picture, this is perfect.......but no pictures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To the walls of Troy where ere they be., 16 Mar 2014
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Alan (FORTROSE, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
This is a fantastic detective story and Michael Wood energises it as only he can .I got the DVD which is superb. Michael Wood catches you up in his enthusiasm and it is just excellent quality TV and reading and when you put the book down at night having read a couple of chapters you dream being at the walls of Troy. Great stuff
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tip Top Trojan Trip, 16 Jan 2014
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
Even better the 2nd time 'round. well done Michael for making history so accessible.
Looking forward to catching up on the DVD.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Updated version of classic, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: In Search Of The Trojan War (Paperback)
Decent although not too extensive update of classic book of brilliant tv series. Michael Wood does a great job of telling the tale through the various believers and unbelievers in the Tale of Troy and their investigations.
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In Search Of The Trojan War
In Search Of The Trojan War by Michael Wood (Paperback - 7 April 2005)
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