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Customer Review

on 2 July 2013
As suggested by the title of this review, I am not a historian. I have, however, read and enjoyed a large number of history books from around this period, such as The Histories (Penguin Classics),The History of the Peloponnesian War (Classics),Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization etc. (all recommended, by the way).

The first thing to say is that this is not a single 'book', but a series of overlapping treatises, or papers. As such, they differ in style and accessibility from section to section.

Many of the earlier and later chapters are clear and rely on little foreknowledge, but some of the middle chapters make continuous references to the old testament, and seem to expect either an encyclopedic knowledge of the work, or to have it open beside you. This may be fine for a dedicated scholar, but for an 'informed layman' it is a bit of an ask. These sections start to read like a commentary, rather than a self-standing work.

The balance between narrative and technical details also varies. Although an insight into the archaeological details can be very interesting, some authors provide more details than can easily be followed by a layman, and this can interrupt the flow of the narrative.

The sections overlap and repeat each other. This can be quite helpful, as it reinforces the reader's memory. Unfortunately, though, it is not consistent, and it sometimes easy to lose the thread when changing sections.

The book itself is surprisingly poorly printed, with the text slightly irregular - albeit legible enough. Some of the maps, however, are very hard to read as the text is extremely small, and the printing quality does not allow it to be read consistently.

Without taking the time to review each chapter independently, I'd have to summarise the book as a whole as:

- [Probably] a very good source for those with a good grounding in the field.
- Of general interest to those with only general knowledge, but interspersed with a few very dry and 'technical' sections.

On balance, I would say it is well worth reading - I certainly haven't come across any other book that covers this period (although I would be open to suggestions).
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