It is one of the most persistent truisms of history that the shores of the Mediterranean were ""the cradle of Western civilization."" Professor Grant's new book is, in effect, a commentary on that axiom. Its purpose is to demonstrate the why of that phenomenon; why it was in the Hellenic lands, and not, say, on the banks of the Euphrates, that the Greek achievement was possible; why it was in Rome, and not in any one of a dozen other, equally well-situated Italian communities that the imperial instinct bloomed so effectively. The answer, of course, lies in the Mediterranean, and Grant pursues it from the eighth millennium before Christ on to the fourth century A.D., through its Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Cretan, Trojan, Semitic, etc., manifestations, with particular emphasis, of course, on the subsequent flowering and decline of first Greek, and then Roman, civilization. If there is one objection to be made to Grant's treatment, it is that it stops too soon; it would have seemed more logical, or at least more satisfying to the reader, to have continued the narrative through the fifth century, in order to show the at least penultimate fate of Graeco-Roman civilization under the aspect of its incipient barbarization. That is, however, a small blemish on the face of an excellent work of analytic and synthetic history, comparable to his earlier World of Rome (1960).