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The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,531 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country.

Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about hu
ebook, 896 pages
Published March 17th 2007 by W.W. Norton
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I feel like I was listening to this book for so long that NOT listening to it feels strange. The end just kind of came out of nowhere... One minute I'm listening to the fall of Rome, and the next Audible is hoping that I enjoyed the program.

Did I enjoy it? Mostly. I liked the subtle humor that made these historical figures personable and relatable (relatively speaking). It served to make this a bit less like a 26 hour stint in Professor Binns' class - though for much of it, it is simply a recap
Nov 18, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
I'm about halfway through this book, and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. In a style similar to her history books for school-age children, the author presents short episodes of history, always formed as narratives based around human interactions and personalities, and jumping between centers of civilization in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and the Mediterranean. Personalities arise from the mists of history, even from the evidence of fragmentary clay records and broken and buried monuments. Patte ...more
Alex Telander
THE HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: FROM THE EARLIEST ACCOUNTS TO THE FALL OF ROME BY SUSAN WISE BAUER: The History of the Ancient World is Susan Wise Bauer’s first book of a four-volume series, as she attempts to recount a complete history of the world. In this first tome, she covers humanity’s beginnings of civilization, as we changed our nomadic ways, on through the ancient world, up to Emperor Constantine and the fall of the great Roman Empire. Weighing in at 860 pages, including notes and bib ...more
Feb 13, 2010 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my perspective on humanity. Who we are. What we've done. And the fact that there's nothing new under the sun. It was especially interesting for me, as a Christian, to see how secular history overlaps and influences the Biblical stories that shape my faith. A must read....can't wait for volume 2.


February 2010: Picking up to read this again since I enjoyed it so much the first time....
❆ Crystal ❆
Jan 09, 2016 ❆ Crystal ❆ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Kudos to the author. This book is an amazing feat... I can only imagine what a difficult task this must have been to research and write. History can be such a tangled mess and Susan Bauer did such a fantastic job untangling and searching for the truth (or as close as we'll ever get to it). This book covers 3,800 BC to 312 AD following China, Persia, Babylon, Egypt, India, North Africa, Greece, Italy, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and toward the end of the book Great Britain, Scotland, and some Sca ...more
Alex Nelson
Although an impressive scope, the approach I feel was flawed.

First, the author takes a "big person" historiographical approach. This seems terribly cartoonish...

Next, the history seems questionable. Take the exodus, for example. Now, there is no archaelogical evidence for the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, there is no empirical evidence supporting it...the only document mentioning the exodus is the Torah, written some 500+ years after the event. (Imagine how accurate a description one would have of s
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
Fast paced history of the ancient world. Wile reading, I could not help but visualize the earlier humans marking their territory as they competed for power and resources, spread out from every corner of Earth to build the cities and civilizations we see today. It's always a good idea to remember from where and from whom we came. This book, though long, will take you on an extremely compact tour from the first kings of whom we are aware through the fall of Rome. It covers how power and land were ...more
Omar Ali
Mar 30, 2015 Omar Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you already know all about Tiglath Pilesar the third and the problems of Assyrian imperialism then this may not be the book for you. It is a very quick (and therefore necessarily superficial) overview of the history of all major Eurasian civilizations from 3000 BC to 300 AD. It helps you to put all of them in place parallel to each other and to get a nodding acquaintance with all of the actors. It is strictly narrative history, focused on rulers and popular stories about is also a b ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, 2012
Conquer other people any way you can before they conquer you. That includes your detractors in your own land. Try not to get poisoned, stabbed, or offed by your closest family member, spouse, or confidant. Act crazy and you're sure to meet this end faster than the others that have come before you. When in doubt kill them first. Rome eventually falls. The End.

This is the only book I've read on ancient history that wasn't forced on me by an educational institution so I have no comparison, but it
Feb 21, 2015 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-classics
The broad scope of this history by necessity makes this a difficult read at some points, not due to complexity of language or concept, but rather due to the challenge of following the changing mass of knowledge. It's a good introduction to a lot of history, is told very matter-of-factly, and connects the dots between cultures in some ways new to me.

One of the most fascinating episodes dealt with the three great empires - Roman, Parthian and Han Chinese, all being in operation at the same time an
Jan 07, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The History of the Ancient World was a well-written survey covering everything from the earliest written accounts of the ancient Sumerians to the pinnacle of the power of Rome. Susan Wise Bauer did a wonderful job of summarizing each period and people group of Asia and Europe, spreading memorable and sometimes humorous remarks throughout to keep the reading a little bit lighter in the midst of some very tragic events.

The more I read, the more I was reminded of man's depravity. There are some ins
This is a 30,000 ft. view of ancient history. It reads quickly and the writing is clear and interesting. The main theme is the use of might to create empires.

Though Ms. Bauer is a Christian, this is not an explicitly religious text at all. She maintains her "historical" voice by quoting other texts. I'm sure that, as with all historical books, some people could disagree with her conclusions or quibble with her methods, but this is intended as an introduction, and it serves that purpose without
Scott Gray
Mar 19, 2012 Scott Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In crafting a narrative history of the ancient world, Susan Bauer has done something that i personally found both novel and fascinating —using the written records of past civilizations as her foundation and baseline. In her introduction, Bauer talks about how the study of history has necessarily always broken down to a study of archaeology where the written record fails. Her book is thus a specific attempt to shape the historical narrative as it was told by the people who wrote it, combining for ...more
Feb 27, 2012 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent historical text. It provides some much needed narrative detail to the often dry and obfuscated facts regarding some of the earliest civilizations of mankind. I especially liked her descriptions of the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations, as they were done with a real human-touch, as opposed to the typically artifact-heavy archaeology-driven proto-histories I am used to.

The one complaint I have about this book is that the author, probably a Christian herself, does not shy awa
Jan 21, 2016 Nathaniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a fantastic account of the rise of ancient civilizations from about 3,000BC to the Fall of Rome. Susan Wise Bauer did a great job of telling the stories of different civilizations (Egypt, Mesopotomia, India, and China initially, with later forays into Greece and Rome) in parallel. It was really fascinating to see what was going on contemporaneously in such different empires, and the contrasts were really fascinating. To see, for example, the rigidity of the Western kings--and the result ...more
Without a unifying theory or an overarching narrative, history is just one damn thing after another. The results are at once cursory and grim: battle, tyrant, slaughter, battle, tyrant, rise, fall, lather, rinse, repeat. Moreover, by attempting to cover 2,000 years of human history in 800 pages, the author maintains a very high altitude, largely rehashing things that I learned in junior high and high school.

Overall, it was a readable but disappointing history of the ancient world.
Connor Pickett
Jun 27, 2014 Connor Pickett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves history
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer was a fairly interesting book. It starts off with the first accounts that humans recorded - which were little clay tabs on traded products to signify that the original owner sent it - and ends with Rome falling after Constantine decided to create a new empire in the name of Christ.

The first portion of the book focuses on Egypt and Mesopotamia, where the first trade and international communicatio
Steve Hemmeke
Jul 05, 2010 Steve Hemmeke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrapped this book up last night - no small feat at 777 pages. Bauer does a pretty decent job reviewing a lot of information - from the beginning of time to Constantine, covering China, India, Egpyt, Rome and everyone in between with a written history in that time. She makes a valiant attempt to keep it from being encyclopedic, and sometimes succeeds. It is lively at points, with wry quips here and there. Sadly, some of these have a jaded feminist edge to them, but they don't ruin the flow.

A gr
May 08, 2010 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I was looking for a broad book on world history, and this book delivered exactly that for ancient history. Coming in at close to 800 pages, this book can appear daunting, but Susan Wise Bauer's writing style keeps you interested throughout. And despite its length, and only covering up until 200AD or so, the book cannot spend too much time on any one period. This book is just enough to whet your appetite for further study in particular areas of interest.

The author has made the deliberate decision
Jul 15, 2013 Andres rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an aspiring history buff dreaming of one day graduating with a History major, I found in this book an example of what I have aspire for. Susan Wise Bauer does a tremendous job which my simple words will never be able to transmit. Really, this history has everything I wish someday to be able to write. comprehensive chapters which last the appropriate amount (15 pages tops), clear timelines to help you sort through the many kings and conquerors, maps detailing the world accordin
Jason Pettus
Jul 09, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Earlier this year, Susan Wise Bauer's remarkable The History of the Medieval World became the first (and still so far only) book in 2010 to earn a perfect score here at CCLaP; and this was also when I mentioned that it is in fact volume two of an ambitious series Bauer is in the middle of right now, chron
May 28, 2010 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a comprehensive book of the history of the world up to the fall of Rome. It merges both east and west though the Americas are not included. It is brief but detailed. The little details are what make history fascinating to me. We all know that Marc Antony was Caeser's right hand man and that he took up with Cleopatra after Caeser's death, but did we know that Cleopatra sailed into Cilicia (Antony's post after the triumvirate was split), in a gilded barge dressed as Venus laying under a ca ...more
Rachel W.
Jan 18, 2015 Rachel W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Rather than another dry text on different kinds of ancient pottery and such, this book brings history alive in a refreshing way. The author’s tone is casual and helped to keep me interested. Although she mostly covered the kings and empires of the ancient world (as opposed to ordinary people and everyday life), she gives plenty of interesting details about what scumbags members of the royal families often were. The book jumps around several areas, including Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Greece, and ...more
Jeni Enjaian
This topic is a hard one to write about simply because the sources are extremely limited, especially the further back one goes. Bauer, in my opinion, successfully summarized what is known about ancient history without making declarations of fact where none exist. She acknowledges myths yet hints at the truth that most myths are based on. She also manages to stay fairly objective in her inclusion of biblical texts as authentic sources along with other sources like the Epic of Gilgamesh. I also co ...more
Neale Aslett
Written in an easy to read style, with wonderful detail. Best read by someone with a good understanding of ancient empires, though the author builds a wonderful thread, easily followed.
Steve Galegor
Oct 12, 2012 Steve Galegor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoy her approach to history so far...
The History of the Ancient World covers the earliest recorded moments in human history through the rise of Constantine in the Roman Empire. The early period is limited to recoded moments and does not dwell on archeology or anthropology. This book focuses much of its early time on Babylon and Mesopotamia as well as Egypt. These early kingdoms are the focus of human firsts such as war chronicles, king books, reform and dictatorship. The early history of what is now known as the Middle East is cove ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Sherri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. It took me a long time to finish it because I only listened to it a chapter at a time here and there when I was by myself (which isn't often with four kids). I first came to love Susan Wise Bauer's writing about history in her series for children called The Story of the World, which I cannot recommend enough to anyone with kids. (My 16 year-old son insists that listening to this series as a kid made his AP world history class this year much easier and ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published by W. W. Norton in 2007

Susan Wise Bauer is well-known in the home school community for her well-written histories. I am not a home school parent but I do recommend this book for history buffs who would like a long-term general overview of history.

Bauer mines lots of types of sources to build a view of the earliest cities and their beliefs. Bauer's history focuses on political leaders and religious/philosophical beliefs of different civilizations. One thing that I really like was her ab
Jun 01, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A chronological telling of the first civilizations.

The book is mainly based in the records that our ancestors left. The written records, stories, legends and myths. The author resorts to archeological findings and results, only when the lack of information is needed to compose a particular piece or fact.

Thus, the book is focused mainly in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese civilizations. From the Sumerians to the mighty Roman world conquering plots, and extravagant emperors. T
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Goodreads Librari...: Page Number Update 2 13 Jan 20, 2016 10:47PM  
  • Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean
  • The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt: The History of a Civilisation from 3000 BC to Cleopatra
  • Europe
  • The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian
  • Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
  • Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe
  • The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000
  • The Roman Way
  • Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
  • Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy & the Birth of Democracy
  • A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome
  • Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt
  • Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome
  • The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World
  • Medieval Civilization 400-1500
  • The World of Late Antiquity 150-750 (Library of World Civilization)
  • The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
  • The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization

From the author's website:

Susan’s newest book for Norton, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, was published in May 2015. The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople (2013), is the third in a multi-volume series providing a narrative world history; the first volume, The History
More about Susan Wise Bauer...

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“Abram—Ibrahim, in the Arabic spelling—was the first to worship Allah, the one God, rather than the stars, the moon, or the sun.” 0 likes
“Civilization began in the Fertile Crescent, not because it was an Edenic place overflowing with natural resources, but because it was so hostile to settlement that a village of any size needed careful management to survive.” 0 likes
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