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The Pelican History of Greece

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The Penguin History of Greece offers a one-volume history of Hellas, & is principally written for the reader who isn't a student or expert in classical literature. Readable, erudite, enthusiastic & balanced, it sweeps the reader along from the days of Mycenae to the splendors of Athens & to the conquests of Alexander & the last dark ages, ably pinpointing the culture, soci ...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published July 30th 1966 by Penguin Books (UK/NY) (first published 1965)
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Though there are probably better primers on Ancient Greece around, this one, by A.R. Burn does an adequate job.

The negative points first. The prose style is sometimes convoluted, with long, confusing sentences. The maps are terrible. Using the same line weight for rivers and coastlines, no shading for land or sea, and gaps where place names cross a line mean it's often hard to tell what's sea and what's land. This is particularly problematic if you're like me, with a shaky grasp of places in the
After reading a lot of historical fiction set in ancient Greece I felt it was time to refresh my memory of the actual history. This volume covers it all in a clear, erudite but not academic, sometimes enjoyably snarky but mostly balanced voice. It conveys the cultural scene of ancient Greece well, but feels rather old-fashioned (lots of aesthetic judgmentalism about Greek art!) and I suspect some of the facts are outdated. (At least, I know that the archaeological evidence has been added to and ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it
The book was especially interesting to me because my paternal grandparents came from Greece and we happened to be on a trip to Greece when I started reading it (Santorini, Mykynos, and Athens). However, the book is in need of a thorough editing. Many of the sentences are so convoluted that it makes it difficult to understand. I rated it a "3" because I enjoyed learning the history and the author is very knowledgeable. ...more
Carole Hazell
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
3 stars for the author's scholarship. Originally published 1965; the narrative is dated. Long, convoluted sentences confuse the reader; line drawn maps using same line for coastline & country borders made my brain hurt. But the breadth of knowledge in this book is astonishing. Everything from ancient Greek academia through philosophy to wars. In detail!
I wonder if any of the 'Young Travellers', to whom Burn dedicates this book, actually read it!
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Good overall background of Greek history, but the writing leaves much to be desired. Some of his sentences seem to rival those of Marcel Proust (for their length). Still a comprehensive history of ancient Greece.
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every high schooler should read it
I read this sitting out on a sunny balcony in Paros and wow! i instantly regretted all of the money I have spent on an education that taught me so little about the foundational culture of Western civilization. full of scandal, intrigue and tragedy in a very readable form.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: greek-roman
A concise little primer on Greece.
Альберто Лорэдо
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good summary of the Ancient Greece history, covering all periods until the closing of Athens' academy by Justinian ...more
The Pelican History of Greece by A.R. Burn (1982)
Christopher Earl
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ignore the other bad reviews Burn writes excellently I wouldn't mind being at his lectures back then ...more
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