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The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine
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The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine (Penguin History of Europe #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  25 reviews
An innovative and intriguing look at the foundations of Western civilization from two leading historians.

The influence of ancient Greece and Rome can be seen in every aspect of our lives. From calendars to democracy to the very languages we speak, Western civilization owes a debt to these classical societies. Yet the Greeks and Romans did not emerge fully formed; their
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Hardcover, 398 pages
Published February 17th 2011 by Viking (first published April 29th 2010)
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Justin Evans
After reading two of the Penguin History of Europe volumes, which were bad and quite bad, why did I pick up this one? Honestly, because they're well designed and I love series. Luckily, this was much better than the other two. It's not in depth at all, but that's fine; that's the type of thing I want from books like this. It's well written, which is hardly a given these days even for supposedly accessible history writing. And it has a cogent argument: those who look to ancient Greece or Rome for ...more
David Williams
There are thousands of books about the classical world so one might ask if we really need another. The answer is yes we do. Our understanding of the past is constantly changing as new information is discovered. New writers have new ways of looking at old subjects. Most of all as the world we live in changes we need new books to help us connect with a past that is constantly moving.

The Birth of Classical Europe is a wonderful introduction to the ancient world. The authors focus on Greek history a
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Justin Tapp
The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine is a fantastic overview of Mediterranean and broader European history. One advantage of reading modern books on history is you have the latest thoughts coming from recent archaeology, technological development, discoveries about languages and migrations, etc.

I have read Freeman's Egypt, Greece, and Rome (my review) so this book was a good refresher for events but did a better job helping me understand the overall historical contexts
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Carmelo Militano
The book is slightly confusing at the beginning what with all this talk about pre & post Minoan palace periods but the picture that emerges is of a people and their self-awareness-based on legend and their knowledge of the Illiad and the Odysssey- and how this shaped both ancient Greek and Roman culture. This alertness to the heroic past is the the start of the idea of a Europe. But what I don't get is why the Romans were so keen on hooking up their past with Aeneas. Why have one of the foun ...more
Collin
Best history book on Europe 2000 BC to 500 AD I have read probably. As interesting as history books can be.
Jenn
This is a solid read - it took me 3 months to finish. Its strength is it puts the whole era into perspective, so you can see how the Mycenaean world related to Classical Greece and to the Macedonians, to the Etruscans, and later to the Romans and Christianity. I knew something of these cultures individually, but not how one period related to and influenced the next. As a whole the Classical World was profoundly influenced by its own past, even when the early Christians are in the ascendency they ...more
JP
This is the first book in the Penguin History of Europe series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. As the title suggests, it tells the history of Europe from Troy (approx. 1200 BC) to St. Augustine. I find it quite interesting that despite the attention paid to Greece and Rome, these were essentially backwaters early on compared with the great empires of the East: Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian in particular. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this period.
Alex Echevarria
In 400 pages, Simon Price gives a whirlwind tour of 1,500 years of European history. Obviously not meant for the serious scholar, this is a wonderful dip in the water, giving a very macro view of various currents in European history. The writing is breezy and devoid of jargon, and the book should make the reader want to delve more deeply into the stories it relates.
El Aguila
It was extremely enjoyable to delve back into my first true love: Classical European history. This was an excellent survey of the start recorded history to the the beginning of the post Roman Empire transformation into the Medieval era.
Hazel Sun
It is an excellent book. Although the book doesn't provide enough details of the ancient time, it is organized in a way that both east and west, Mediterranean areas and Central Europe are introduced in parallel.
Gavin
Despite the sheer scope of the work, I really found it to be quite enjoyable, informative and above all well researched and well written. A positive treasure trove of information ranging from hard archaeological evidence to more speculative research based assertions.

The writing style is inviting and accessible, as previously stated.This would make it a great book for an amateur in the subject of antiquity who is looking to get a decent overview of the subject. I read the book over a four day st
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Old-Barbarossa
Very good overview of the period with good maps.
Not really about what we would now call Europe due to a lack of data on the wider area during this period.
It does touch briefly on things outwith the Mediterranean but mainly about Greece and Rome with a seasoning of Hittite/Persian/Levant/Phoenicia.
Like any broad Hx it rarely covers anything in depth, but it was very good at helping me put some other things I've recently been reading into context. Also has a few wee asides on how the past has infl
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Riet
Aug 16, 2011 Riet added it
Een heel goede, deels nieuwe, kijk op het begin van de europese gechiedenis. Goed om dit soort boeken om de paar jaar opnieuw te kopen en te lezen. Door nieuwe opgravingen en nieuwe interpretaties van oude opgravingen verandert de kijk op onze geschiedenis toch regelmatig. Dit boek is vlot geschreven; wat het extra leesbaar maakt zijn de korte "uitstapjes" naar de meer moderne geschiedenis, waar die link te leggen valt.
Voor mij extra interesan, omdat ik nu voor het eerst ('s avonds voor ik ga s
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Liviu
Well written but way too sketchy for what it promises; I thought this kind of sketchiness is passe in history books, but it seems people still are in love with generalizations. The vignettes realting the classical world with the modern world and the treatment of the early period with Troy and the Minoan civilization are highlights, but the rest is not worth being way better book out there that treat the Greek-Hellenistic - Romnan era; I think that a focus only from 1200-600 BC would have made th ...more
David
Well, this certainly read like it was published by two Ph.Ds at Oxford. It provided a very in-depth look into ancient Western civilization which I found fascinating...but this is definitely not a book you want to pick up if you've had limited exposure to this part of world history. It was very specialized and not as broad as I hoped it would be.

But, this is just my take on it. It's no doubt a great hit among academics.
Christian Schoon
The two authors of this historical overview give you a hop-scotch approach to this period. Best for readers who already have the big picture on these classical times/personalities, but a rewarding read for those who are up to speed. Especially enlightening re: its take on the central role of Troy in the narratives of the societies that would, eventually, lay the foundations of Western culture.
Lauren Albert
I read this book and I don't think I could tell you anything about it. I found it very hard to stick with it. Dry? Confusing? Both? I don't know. Perhaps it was too academic for me. It is definitely not for the general reader who doesn't already know a lot about the subject.
Colin
A not-so-bad overview of the history of Classical Europe, beginning with the pre-Classical Mycenaean roots of Greece through the post-Classical world of Augustine. It's a history of Classicism as much as of Classical history. Worth reading, but not a "must-have"
John
A very broad, all encompassing approach to the whole period from the Minoans on Crete right through to the Romans (via the Greeks). A very fast-paced read, that gave a great overview of the whole Classical period in Europe.
Amy
Dec 13, 2013 Amy marked it as abandoned
My basic knowledge of classical history is so abysmal, this book might as well be in Chinese. Why am I so stupid?! Someone please write Classical History for Dummies. With pictures.
Kris
easy-to-read, wide-ranging history from Minoans through Rome.
Faith
Jan 10, 2013 Faith added it
didn't finish
Brandon Morse
Brandon Morse marked it as to-read
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Luneris
Luneris marked it as to-read
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Mohammad AlAli
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