An engaging introduction to a historical era that I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with (beyond what I got in school in various wide-scope 'world' histoAn engaging introduction to a historical era that I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with (beyond what I got in school in various wide-scope 'world' history classes). The author has the easy style that comes with expertise in the subject matter--without the need to show off. I admit to getting a bit bogged down in Chapter 2, which covers several centuries worth of the ebb and flow of dynasties (the who ruled where at what time thing); once clear of that I had a great time. There is no formal bibliography; however, there are recommended reading suggestions for each of the 6 chapters. I just might read one or two--I became intrigued by Antigonus the One-Eyed and his son Demetrius the Besieger--and I want to know more....more
I will admit to being woefully under-educated in Viking history. This fascinating book went a good ways to remedying that shortcoming. The hook is a VI will admit to being woefully under-educated in Viking history. This fascinating book went a good ways to remedying that shortcoming. The hook is a Viking woman, Gudrid, who is mentioned in two Icelandic sagas. The author does a great job of fleshing out the life and times of this remarkable woman. As a bonus the reader gets an introductory course in the history of early Iceland and Greenland--with side trips to North America.
I would have loved pictures/illustrations/more maps.
Now I'm off to read the author's book about the ivory chessmen found in Scotland--'Ivory Vikings'....more
I just loved this book!! Archaeological decipherment is one of my favorite non-fiction subjects; I already have several general histories on my booksheI just loved this book!! Archaeological decipherment is one of my favorite non-fiction subjects; I already have several general histories on my bookshelf. This is a great addition to the genre for the generalist.
The book is divided into thirds and the subjects of the first and last third are already well known. Sir Arthur Evans was a giant in his field. He had uncovered the palace at Knossos (on Crete) and discovered the major cache of clay tablets written in what became known as 'Linear B'. It was clear from the moment of discovery that these tablets were the palace records-inventories, tax records etc. The numbering system was worked out as well as the word 'total'. As Linear B is pictoral in nature, Evans and crew acquired a grasp of a number of the animal symbols. But they were still no closer to solving the problem of deciphering an unknown language in an unknown script. Young Michael Ventris, architect by training, eventually deciphered linear B and won fame, if not fortune, for the deed. The middle third of the book is devoted to an American woman,classical scholar Alice Kobel. The author takes full advantage of the release of her letters, journals and working notes, to flesh out her invaluable contribution to the effort. As I was reading of all of her painstaking work (done by hand, after she had done a full teaching schedule), I was in awe (so wishing that she had had a personal computer)! Go Alice! Quite frankly, without her hard work and deep analysis, it would have taken Ventris years longer. Conversely, if Alice hadn't died young (cancer),she might well have made the break-through herself. The author does a very good job of keeping the examples and explanations simple without dumbing down the subject matter. I never felt lost and could follow along and understand the rationale with no problem.
Recommended for puzzle fans, armchair archaeologists and those in search of a good story....more