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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introduction, 25 Jan 2010
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This book is a selection of short essays dealing with the ancient world in a chronological way. Links are shown between the rise of one power and the demise of another. Excellent maps are sprinkled throughout the work alongside the prose allowing the reader to associate the name of places to their geographical locations (an indispensible tool and I wish more historians did this). This is an excellent introduction to the ancient world and I'm sure many readers will be delighted with this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious project successfully completed, 4 May 2013
By 
Dr. W. H. Konarzewski "Dr W. H. Konarzewski" (Colchester, England) - See all my reviews
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Susan Wise Bauer sets out to cover world history from around 3600 BC to 312 AD, starting with The Flood and ending with the Fall of Rome. Most of the book focuses on Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. But she does not neglect India or China. She manages to complete this project in 85 separate chapters (or essays) spread over 777 pages, with hundreds of maps thrown in for good measure. She writes with scholarship and quirky humour - for example when she's writing about the inbreeding habits of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, she remarks that it is surprising their offspring weren't born with three heads. From time to time her dating is contentious - she places the Biblical prophet Jonah in the reign of Ashurbanipal of Assyria whilst most Biblical scholars date Jonah a hundred years earlier between 800-750 BC. But this is a very minor criticism. I am more concerned by the amount of history that is left out. King Argishti of Urartu was a key figure in the Middle East political scene around 700 BC, but he is not even mentioned. Obviously it is impossible for Susan Bauer to describe everything that ever happened in the Middle East but sometimes it seems she writes about the less important matters at the expense of the major events. But I guess that's her prerogative.
In summary this is a very readable and well-researched attempt to give a novice historian an introduction to the complexities of ancient history. It is also a useful work for Bible students as she attempts to link Biblical history with what was happening in the rest of the world at the same time. In general she appears to be supportive of the historical content of the Old Testament.
Strongly recommended. And as a side comment, I'd love to see Susan Bauer presenting historical programmes on TV.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tour de force!, 27 May 2013
I love this book. I'm only a simple working class lad and would normally steer well clear of a heavyweight tome like this. But Ms Bauer brings the ancient world alive, and for me it was more like reading a fantasy novel (very enjoyable). But be warned its a LONG read (at least it was for me), but then what's the rush?

By the way, the maps are best I've come across. I think maps are really important in a world history book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a journey!, 20 Dec 2013
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I downloaded two history books on my kindle - Penguin History of The World and this book. While I've read some of the Penguin book, this is the book I keep coming back to. Both books are good but like another reviewer has said, it reads like an epic fantasy novel, not that it's a work of fiction, but the writing style Bauer has adopted makes it that much more compelling. I was a bit unsure about the length of both books and whether I'd finish them, but after finishing Bauer's book I still wanted more. I was actually disappointed because I wanted to know what happened next with Christianity spreading through Rome to Islam. I'm not sure if this is covered in history of the renaissance, but I would still recommend this book to anyone who wants an exciting read of the ancient world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic narrative history, 31 Mar 2014
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First of all the title of this book is slightly misleading as it doesn't go up to the fall of Rome(thats in the next volume), but goes up to the time of Constantine. But that does in no way detract from what is an incredibly well written chronological narrative of the ancient world. Someone has written that it reads almost like a novel and it does, covering the stories of civilizations and cultures and their rulers, and how they interacted with each other in bite size chapters interspersed with maps of the regions and timelines. Some reviews of this book on other sites have said that it has overly religious overtones, but the people who have said that obviously did not read the preface intro by the author. The author is relying on written accounts(usually from the time) to tell the stories of the civilizations which obviously involves using accounts from religious sources and of course EVERYONE in those times was religious in some way. Those stories need to be told because they are what give an insight into the culture and people of the time which is what she was aiming for. Nowhere did I see that she said these stories were fact or fiction. It also does touch upon other key happenings and events and how they came about, such as the building of the pyramids, the Sphinx, Solomons Temple, The Oracle at Delphi etc and key battles between regions. The only maybe slight downside is that it doesn't go into much detail on how a civilization lived but then the book would need to have at least three times as many pages with how many cultures are mentioned and involved in the story, and its already a meaty work. And for me its actually a plus because its now spurred me on to look up other books that do go more in depth about the people and civilizations.

Basically if you want a flowing narrative history of ancient times thats very readable and how cultures interacted with each other then you should certainly read this, you won't regret it epic doesn't really do it justice!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I wanted, 4 Sep 2013
By 
C. Gilgallon "christhemountain" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I'm really just here to add my five stars to a book that has so few reviews, positive or otherwise, and yet overwhelmingly deserves them.

I have no idea what possessed the author to write such a tome - the effort must have been herculean - all I know is that I'm glad she did. Don't die before you finish the series Susan!
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4.0 out of 5 stars history of the ancient world, 4 Feb 2014
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Mr. N. P. Quenet "Historyman" (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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It is a good book & covers what I need But for me it does not have that wow factor. As a general reference book on the ancient world to the fall of Rome it's good
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great puchase, 30 July 2014
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Only part way through but I'm loving it. Right level of detail for me, I like her tone/sense of humour.
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