The Rise of Athens: The Story of the World's Greatest Civilization by Anthony Everitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC!
This is probably one of the most readable accounts of the Athens that I've ever read, punctuated with a little bit of the things we all know, like how the Iliad informs their lives, the huge importance of Sparta, and of course some of the interesting accounts of our favorite Know-Nothing, Socrates.
Even though I have a huge soft spot in my heart for philosophy in general and loved the brief accounts in here, make no mistake: This book is all about the big players of the political history, first and foremost. Wars are an obvious part of it, as is the evolution or even the spontaneous rise of democracy out of almost nothing, but it's the characters of history that makes this book stand out.
It's definitely good enough for a newbie fan of Grecian history and it's readable enough for everyone else, too.
My only complaint may be a personal one. Perhaps we didn't really need the fall of Ilium in as much detail. Yes, it's a cultural thing, but a quicker overview at the beginning before diving head first into the good stuff might have been even better.
Same thing goes for all the extras of Socrates, and that's even though I love reading about him.
Honestly? I'd have been perfectly content on hearing about more of the others that made up the rise of the penultimate Greek City-State. We love to focus on the iconic people, I know, I know, but he was never a real mover or shaker in the political scene, just in the evolution of thought and philosophy.
But I did get a real kick out of all the Satires, though. They gave me a much better story and a more rounded feel of the life.
All in all, I'm perfectly happy with this history. It lets me dive in with a great overview and a telling of a pretty epic and perilous story from the first beginnings, the realization that they were a power against Xerxes, all the way through Alexander. Fun stuff!
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