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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confronting the Classics - Mary Beard's latest hardback
This book is the fruit of many years of scholarship: it is, primarily, a collection of essays and reviews which deal with aspects of classical culture. This is not a book intended for undergraduates or scholars per se: it is not a heavyweight purely academic tome but accessible to all. The extended essay/review format allows for the treatment of many subjects but these...
Published 16 months ago by amacater

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it's not a intro for newbies
This book is a collection of book reviews and unfortunately you need to know quite a lot about the subject matter to get everything and unfortunately that's why I bought the book.

It's well written and entertaining in places but not an introduction. Slightly shame facedly the only chapter I fully understood was the one about Asterix the Gaul.
Published 11 months ago by gerryg


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for both newcomers and those with prior knowledge, 14 Sep 2013
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I do have some background, having studied Latin and Greek as far as a first year reading classics at Cambridge. (It was 30 years ago that various circumstances - not dissimilar to those being encountered by young people today - forced me to change to law.) For me the book worked very well as an update of issues and controversies. However it is so engagingly and accessibly written that I am sure no previous background knowledge would be needed to enjoy it as an overview of contemporary classical scholarship and indeed for the insights this can give into our present world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Wise, 16 July 2013
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This review is from: Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations (Hardcover)
Among the countless little gems sprinkled throughout this marvellous book is the news - to me, anyway - that despite his reputation as a persecutor and slaughterer of early Christians, the Emperor Nero, according to an obscure tradition, had Pontius Pilate put to death, and was even regarded in some quarters as a defender of the faith. Which begs the question of whether the man was indeed as villainous as he is often painted. One of the beauties of studying ancient history and the Classics is that one can never be certain of anything (except perhaps that Thucydides is a bugger to try to understand); so much myth, legend, misinformation and hyperbole has been thrown into the melting pot over the centuries that separating the actual truth from what we want the truth to be has become a daunting, Herculean task. This is a theme that pops up frequently in Professor Beard's book; we know practically nothing about Boudica to this day, for example, and I personally would be a happy man were Mary Beard to write an entire book about her. Confronting the Classics is a collection of book reviews - or rather, a collection of essays inspired by the books under review, as many are so riveting - and so beautifully written - that one often forgets that one is reading a review. For those who have no knowledge of the Classics, it is an excellent introduction, and Mary Beard is a witty, wise and above all warm companion to have along on this endlessly fascinating journey through the ancient world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ave Beard, 6 July 2013
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Although I was not sure about the TV series, I enjoyed the book on Pompeii. So I thought I'd try this compilation of review essays spanning a range of classical topics. And am I glad I did? Yes, definitely. I read this from cover to cover (if one can do that on a Kindle) and it is a great read for anyone with an interest in the Classics and ancient history. Bravo.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like discussion and debate to confront Tradition, Adventure and Innovation, 29 May 2013
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I read her book on Pompeii and listened to the series of six lectures she gave at Aberdeen University two years ago. I find this book just as analytical but readable as her previous one. I haven't finished the book as yet but am taking it with me soon on hols to the western abruzzi mountains
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4.0 out of 5 stars With Reservatios, 19 May 2013
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Thoroughly enjoyed this book but cannot see it as suitable for the general reader without a background in Latin and Greek.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Business as usual, 16 May 2013
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This review is from: Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations (Hardcover)
Professor Mary Beard has a reputation for writing books that are accessible to the general public while still being academically rigorous. This book is no exception. Over the years she has been writing reviews in a variety of publications. This book is her selection, ranging from a book on Sir Arthur Evans and the Minoan Myth to the Asterix books, covering both the Greeks and the Romans. Nothing is new, all the reviews were freely available when first published. What Professor Beard has done is collect them into one easily accessible volume. The reviews are thorough, well balanced, and entertaining. She has such a wide ranging expertise she can confront the many experts writing the books on their own level. But more than that, she can introduce them to a whole new audience - those non academics whose interest in the classics has been piqued by Mary Beard's well-respected television appearances. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Written in a stele that makes it very accessible and ..., 23 July 2014
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Ms. Joanna Ruth Penney "Joanna Penney" (Shrewsbury, Shropshire. England. U.K) - See all my reviews
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Written in a stele that makes it very accessible and enjoyable. When I read it, I can hear Mary Beard's voice. She is a bit of a hero of mine but I think this book is very interesting and a refreshing 'take' on the classics.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 7 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations (Hardcover)
It's certainly a good read. The author is hilarious and well informed. Very approachable to anyone who hasn't studied classics
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing glimpse of Academe's inner circle, 24 July 2013
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G. M. Sinstadt - See all my reviews
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This is not a book for the layman, nor does it pretend to be. Therefore the views of this layman - who acquired it partly by chance and partly from having enjoyed the lighter side of Professor Beard's writing -should be taken for what they are worth.

Confronting the Classics is a collection of book reviews contributed to various publications over a number of years, together with an Introduction and an Afterword. The Introduction is the equivalent of an angler tossing bait into the water to entice the quarry. Here are hints of many juicy bits to follow, and sure enough they do, surrounded by a great deal of erudite observation on the way of life and thought in ancient Greece and Rome.

Not all of this could be expected to wow the lay reader, but plenty does - for example, the suggestion that the Palace at Knossos (which this lay reader has visited) are a case of "rebuilding ruins"; or the details of daily life for a squaddie stationed at Hadrian's Wall; and much more. Made readable by an author who can invoke the Carry On Films and make them relevant, or who can offer a comprehensive guide to the Asterix books both in the original French and thier English translations.

The fact that these are reviews of books by other academics of course offers ample scope for points scoring in a notoriously competitive field. They are not resisted but are invariably fair and balanced. In any case, the clever professor makes that very point in her Afterword. Or that's how it seemed to this lay reader.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...but mainly the Romans.", 21 July 2013
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Keith Giles (Deneysville, Free State, ZA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations (Hardcover)
"Confronting the Classics" lives up to the claim on the cover that it is "learned, trenchant and witty";we have come to expect nothing less from the classy classicist Mary Beard. However, we all have our favourite areas of the classics and if Ancient Greece is yours then you might come away feeling a trifle short-changed. I am a devotee of the Romans, so I was not too concerned about this, and the middle three sections of the book were a delight. I could not see where Section Five fitted into the scheme of things. It looked very much as if this omnium- gatherum had been tacked on to the end of the book simply to pad it out.

An extended version of Sections Two, Three and Four devoted solely to the Romans would have been a better bet, and would have gained five stars I am sure.
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