GREECE: 1600-30 B. C. THE GREEK WORLD by Anton Powell


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Two books, on different levels, attempting to cover the same ground: Greece, in the Great Civilizations series, is so condensed, however, that even though its generalizations are correct, they are too abbreviated to be useful; on the other hand, The Greek World packs in a lot of information and gives a real sense of this ancient civilization. In Greece, such bald statements as ""700s BC Homeric poems reach their final form"" and ""500s BC Philosophy is invented"" can't convey much to readers; and the choppy, awkward style does little to make this bare outline interesting. Though the photos and diagrams are acceptable, the copious illustrations are unattractive and sometimes lack explanation, as in the picture of a wrestler trying to gouge his opponent's eyes. Though almost 50% illustration, The Greek World contains a much more solid survey, fleshed out with interesting anecdotes and introduced with a discussion of the kind of evidence that provides information about the ancient world. The text, too, reads more smoothly; a comment like ""His [Agamemnon's] career was much influenced by women"" is at least explained, though five pages later. The photos are good, but imitations of works of art elsewhere in the book are not always in the spirit of the originals--Greek vases did not sport Disney eyes. Recreations of scenes are sometimes confusing compared with the text. Maps and charts are not fully thought out--nowhere in the pages on the Peloponnesian War is the Peloponnese located (it is elsewhere in the book, but can't be found through the index), and the accompanying map lacks its color code. Still, there's much useful, well-organized information here.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1987
Page count: 3293pp
Publisher: Watts