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The Greeks Paperback – 1 Jan 1951

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (1951)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000CI1R9
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,271,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Humphrey Kitto (1897-1982) was Emeritus Professor of Greek at the University of Bristol. --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Perfect Paperback
The author of "The Greeks", a well-known professor who devoted a great part of his life to the study of Ancient Greece, wrote this book with an aim: help others to understand better the subject that he taught. In my opinion, H. D. F. Kitto fulfilled his self-imposed task marvelously.
Kitto doesn't pretend to write an exhaustive history of Ancient Greece, but rather an introductory book that touches upon many subjects without delving too much into any of them. As a result, after reading this book you will end up with a general idea of the culture, art, literature and historical facts regarding Ancient Greece, but you won't be able to say you know all about it. On the other hand, you will know much more about the Greeks, and the values that shaped them and motivated their actions. That is probably more than enough to recommend this book :)
I want to point out that even though the author doesn't oversimplify the subject at hand to the point of distorting it, he highlights so much certain central ideas that even those who read the book without paying it due attention will understand them. For instance, Kitto emphasizes the great divide that existed for the Greeks between themselves and the others, the barbarians. According to the Greeks, that divide was undeniable because only they had mastered the way of being truly "free". That certitude, and their consequent feeling of exceptionalism, marked all their actions.
Kitto says, in the introduction, that he strove to allow the Greeks to speak for themselves, and the reader gets exactly that impression from time to time. I don't know much about Ancient Greece, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I guess that is a good indication that even those who just want to dabble in the subject are likely to enjoy it...
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Format: Perfect Paperback
It's half a century old and written by someone my copy describes as a 'late Victorian', but HDF Kitto's 'The Greeks' is an engagingly thought-provoking and insightful history of classical Greek civilisation. Kitto writes in a style that is much more enjoyable and entertaining than many of his contemporaries, presenting a host of theories on the Greek state of mind and world view that go a long way to explaining Greek society and actions. Particularly informative is the author's exploration of the 'polis' concept, explaining comprehensively the city-state system and analysing its part in the eventual downfall of Greek civilisation (how far the essentially fragmentary nature of the polis system prevented the Greek culture from expanding or defending itself from more centrally organised, ruthless adversaries like the Roman empire). This is a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening book.
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Format: Perfect Paperback
If you are looking for an introduction to ancient Greek history then this is one of the best books to start with. Kitto has an enormous breadth of knowledge which he communicates clearly and avoids the dry, stuffy prose that you may remember from history books at school. It covers the period of Greek history up to but not including the rise of Alexander, and explores most aspects of their society & culture. As well as being informative, it is also a highly entertaining read, which even had me laughing out loud at times. Kitto's enthusiasm is highly infectious and his excellent book has certainly inspired me to look into Greek history in greater depth.
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Format: Perfect Paperback
I found Kitto's classic book in small book shop in Athens a few years ago, when I was travelling in vacations. I just wanted a companion book to spend the week and was not expecting much from it, rather than a superficial introduction. It was the most radical surprise I ever had with a book. Kitto has managed to create in this tiny book a very unique and original representation of the soul and essence of the Ancient Greek society (the accurate one in my opinion), with a power of concision that can only come from someone that has completely and utterly mastered the subject - Kitto transmits many ideas with very few words. Yet, he shares his passion with us with generosity, enthusiasm and a lively, wonderful humour that makes you feel you are not reading, but *hearing* him, even thought the book was written 50 years ago.

I went to my vacations alone and felt I had spent it with a marvelous companion, enjoying an intellectual journey that inspired me to go on into Greek Classical studies. From all the countless books I've read on Greece, Kitto's achievement in combining content and style seems to me, unparallel. If you love history, Greek history or even better, don't like it at all, simply give yourself the opportunity to enjoy this master piece. I doubt you will be able to hold back a few smiles.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author is (was ?), a gifted and dedicated academic. I believe this was first published in the early 1950s and the style is very different from an equivalent book that would be published today. If you want quick facts to dip into, this is not the book for you but if you want to understand the whole context of Greek civilisation, it is a brilliant and illuminating read. Not one I suspect for the Twitter generation.
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Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
If like myself you watched a movie that made you want to learn more about the lifestyles and cultures of the Ancient Greeks, Kitto's book is just the primer you need.' Weighing in at 252 pages, this is a concise overview of everything you need to know about the Greeks up to, but not including Alexander. (The author felt Alexander deserved more than a couple of scribbled passages at the end of the book, which is what most other books do apparently).

This was an enjoyably light read, without being a lightweight on the information. The dull, dreary boring minutiae was left in favour of a style that can be enjoyed by the novice to the classics, of which I still classify myself. Certainly something that has inspired my interests in the Greeks enough to want to learn more.

I particularly enjoyed the part that said clearly any one slighted would openly seek revenge through the courts, none of that turn the other cheek malarkey and very frowned upon in this day and age.
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