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"Informed, informative and thoroughly enjoyable . . . A book that brings the past back to life."—Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
"Interesting and rewarding read"—Guy de la Bédoyère, BBC History Magazine
"Spawforth's book stands out in a crowded field of histories of Greece and Rome for its liveliness and wit"—Daisy Dunn, Literary Review
The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the “civilized” Greek and Roman empires resisting the barbarians at the gate are far from accurate. Tony Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East.
From the rise of the Mycenaean world of the sixteenth century B.C., Spawforth traces a path through the ancient Aegean to the zenith of the Hellenic state and the rise of the Roman empire, the coming of Christianity and the consequences of the first caliphate. Deeply informed, provocative, and entirely fresh, this is the first and only accessible work that tells the extraordinary story of the classical world in its entirety.
About the Author
Tony Spawforth is emeritus professor of ancient history at Newcastle University, presenter of eight archaeological documentaries in the Ancient Voices series on BBC2, and author of numerous books, including Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution.
“A welcome survey of the two greatest powers in the ancient Mediterranean world and their bound destinies. . . . In a time when education in the classics is ever scarcer, this is an attractive and learned introduction to a history that reverberates in present events.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[An] excellent survey. . . . In addition to straightforward historical narrative, Spawforth makes quite unexpected but relevant connections. . . . This conversational yet erudite history is a treat.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Highly readable and useful.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“From time to time, people ask me, ‘What’s a good history of Greece and Rome I can read?’ From now on, I think I’ll recommend this one, a readable tour for all readers, . . . a sweeping, beautifully written story covering eight and a half millennia. . . . With Spawforth as our guide, we grasp a world less of myths and superheroes than of people who really lived. . . . What a story, one worth reading. Spawforth makes the case for its lasting value: ‘These are things which suspend despair about the shortcomings of human nature. They bring joy, and hope.’ ”—John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer
"A beautifully written account of ancient history, breathtaking in its ambition and rich in insight."—Professor Paul Cartledge, author of The Spartans
"An incredibly engaging read, written with scholarly precision and clarity. With great agility, Spawforth mixes literary, inscriptional and archaeological material and offers a nuanced understanding of how civilisations evolve."—Professor Michael Scott, author of Ancient Worlds
“Informed, informative and thoroughly enjoyable . . . A book that brings the past back to life.”—Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads