The details of life in ancient Greece are presented as a travel guide for visitors from the future.
After prefaces, introductions, charts, and warnings, readers are welcomed to Athens and told that “ancient Greece is the birthplace of everything,” a nakedly Eurocentric claim that sets the book’s tone and is repeated throughout. Next, a visit to Sparta is presented as a risky experience for time travelers, with the gruesome details of how Spartans were groomed to become “the best soldiers in the world.” In the Battle of Thermopylae, time travelers are invited to “have the honor of fighting for a glorious cause,” to defend Greek civilization against the Persians, who are pictured as dark-skinned and sinister Middle Easterners. In the Battle of Salamis, “Xerxes is Beaten Like a Persian Carpet,” as the subheading blares. Art, philosophy, and architecture characterize the golden age of Greece. In two chapters on Alexander the Great and his “Greek Conquest” (a chapter heading), the text’s irreverence reaches a new low: The daughter of King Darius of Persia “isn’t too pleased to marry her father’s killer, but then, it’s so hard to find a good husband these days.” Apparently, the world owes nearly every positive advancement to ancient Greece; slavery, conquest, and oppression of women are just part of the package.
This book is stuffed with fascinating information, but its presentation reinforces an us-versus-them mentality, with Europe on top. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-13)