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A witty friend pops in to help you grasp Mesopotamian history
on 24 September 2009
This is one of the marvellous books written by someone who knows so much that he makes it sound all too easy; Christopher Duffy has a similar style and Bindhoff's Tudor England is another such joy.
One feels Roux grasps how these ancient cultures actually worked as functioning societies rather than as quaint historical constructs. One sees how the strange factory cultures of Sumer (everyone working for the globalised gods) clashed with the free-booting Semitic and then Hurrian peoples of the periphery resulting in respectively Sargon and Assyria. Here is a people simple enough to be owned by their gods and yet already engaging in complex commercial structures and bureaucratic management never mind their scientific achievements.
Each chapter is just enough to flesh out a culture and then on to the next. Each makes one to think of a real society with rational aims and goals. Each chapter is also well paced enough for you to retain your understanding until you can link to the next piece of the historical chain.
I would not have believed such a distant civilisation could so effortlessly been evoked; something only a great deal of knowledge can achieve.