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August 3, 2006

Truly, We Are a Decadent Culture

I'm in the market, so to speak, for a relatively readable history of early civilizations — a survey or starting point for further study, whether in depth or chronology. Such things are apparently difficult to find, outside of the dessicated world of text books. At any rate, I figured I'd attempt the obvious route and see where the menues of Barnes & Noble might take me. Well, narrowing my results from history to world history to civilization - history to ancient civilization - history, I found the following top 10 recommendations:

  • A book about Ireland's role in the period between ancient Rome and Medieval Europe
  • A "history of the Biblical world"
  • A book about women's role in ancient Greece and Rome
  • The hardcover edition of the second book
  • A book tantalizing about the "naked olympics" — meaning the "ancient games"
  • A book about the Egyptians
  • A book about Greek homosexuality
  • A "classical Greek reader"
  • A book about the "Aegean Bronze Age"
  • A book about Homer

Now, some of these books may or may not be interesting to the average reader of such texts, but I can't help but wonder: are we really that well informed about history that we've narrowed our interests to sexual orientation and women's lib? Or are we really that ignorant of history to have narrowed our interests to same?

Heck, I'd bet the average American reader would actually learn, from this list, that ancient Rome transitioned into Medieval Europe!

Posted by Justin Katz at August 3, 2006 5:51 PM

The best books I've read on ancient Greece were Stephen Pressfield's novels. Gates of Fire was excellent, and Tides of War was pretty good. He pulls together many small details to give you the feeling of really being there.

Posted by: Ben Bateman at August 5, 2006 12:11 PM