10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: From Democrats to Kings: The Brutal Dawn of a New World from the Downfall of Athens to the Rise of Alexander the Great (Hardcover)
The subject matter of the book is a great one as the 4th century BC is neglected in most generalist treatments of antiquity and for this reason alone I really wanted to like this book. However I am returning it as it is unreadable. It is a terribly written book.
Consider the following examples of truly horrendous prose:
"Athens had to pull down its own city walls, leaving itself naked to the world around it. Like a prisoner of war stripped naked in front of his captors" (page 12)
Or in a section on Dionysius of Syracuse.
"Everyone loves to know whom to blame. The people loved it. He taunted the city into electing new generals. A fresh start - everyone loves that. He claimed that he needed sole power to be able to deal with the threat - that he alone could lead Syracuse and Sicily to safety in its dark hour. Everyone loves a hero."
I could not stomach the repetitive short sentences and endless clichés ("final nail in the coffin" . . . "to its knees" . . . "man-to-man" . . . "step up its game") and gave up on the book after chapter 2.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Oct 2010 18:35:36 BDT
M. G. Raven says:
The reviewer has blinkered themselves by a prejudice to style. I found the book both lively and scholarly. Its anecdotal references bought the post-Peloponnesian War world for me.
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2012 13:24:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Oct 2013 14:20:37 BDT
Well, it all depends what you are looking for. If you don't mind multiple anachronisms (dozens of them) such as comparing Pericles to Churchill or the war that Athens waged in Northern Greece as its own ViÍtnam, then fine for you. Note that this is not about prejudice to style... Moreover, what the reviewer seems to object to is in fact sloppy and incorrect English, whether written or spoken, not even quoloquial English. Along with the reviewer, there is a limit to what I am prepared to bare with, and this author has clearly exceeded it, however knowledgeable he may be. Also, and however this might seem, I just dislike it when authors seem obliged to "dumm down" their story so that the "mere mortals" may stand a chance to understand what it is all about...
Posted on 6 Jan 2012 18:37:43 GMT
David Oliver says:
I would like to thank you for presenting some of the extracts here - you have saved me the disappointment and money.
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