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The Trojan War

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Did the Trojan War really happen?

Spectacular new archaeological evidence suggests that it did. Recent excavations and newly translated Hittite texts reveal that Troy was a large, wealthy city allied with the Hittite Empire. Located at the strategic entrance to the Dardanelles, the link between the Aegean and Black Sea, it was a tempting target for marauding Greeks, the Vik
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 3rd 2008 by Arrow (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  1,179 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Thought this would give me more historical info on the actual Trojan War. Turns out we don't know enough to fill a book, so a lot of this is padded out by a blow-by-blow retelling of the Iliad, which I definitely didn't need. Booooring.

Someone recently asked me for my least favorite nonfiction books of my whole Reading Through History project, and this was one of two books I named. (The other: Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome.)

We had a stoop sale last Sunday and someone tried to buy this book for a doll
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read two other books by Barry S. Strauss. One 3 stars and one 5 stars. I had hoped this would be at least 4 stars but sadly it disappointed me and is more of a 2.5. The Trojan war is a very interesting part of history yet this book made it boring and I couldn't get a clear grip on interesting facts probably because I was to in focused in learning and read more to finish it. ...more
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I remember finding Barry Strauss' book on Spartacus entertaining and readable, which is probably why I asked for this for Christmas. I've always been interested in the Trojan War, and when it came to getting round to actually reading this I was a little hesitant -- I like my stories of cunning Odysseus and beautiful Helen, not the sordid truth. But so, apparently, does Barry Strauss -- and in fact he suggests that the work of Homer is a lot closer to the historical truth than modern scholars hav ...more
A very readable and interesting introduction to the classic tale of war in the ancient world and the heroes of the age. Good preparation for reading The Iliad which I mean to do. Good maps too! 3 Stars ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cajonera
This was such a nice book to read. Even though it is short, the author shows his depth of knowledge and succeeds at grounding the Trojan War on archaeological evidence- not only from Greece but also comparing the Greek and Trojan armies to other Bronze Age civilizations from the Near East such as Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites, and Babylonians-.

Anyone interested on what a real Trojan War might have looked like will have a solid starting point with this book.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on discoveries made in the last decade in archaeology and epigraphy, Strauss recounts, in his very distinctive voice and style, the story of the Trojan War and analyzes its historicity, connecting it to what we know about Bronze Age warfare, the cult of the warrior, and interstate conflicts and alliances. Strauss has a really compelling sense of narrative. One jarring note for me: when he quotes from The Iliad and The Odyssey, he uses poet Alexander Pope's translations, an interesting choi ...more
Paul Pensom
This book wasn't what I was expecting at all. I was looking for a detailed examination of the archaeological evidence for Troy and the Trojan War. What I got was a retelling – in often purple prose – of The Iliad. There were frequent references to near contemporary records, to be sure, but the hard nosed archaeology was scarce indeed, and far too often it took a back seat to the author's rhetorical flights of fancy. Maybe there isn't enough evidence to furnish a book, but considering this volume ...more
Susan O
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ancient
A recounting of the Trojan War using Homer, other ancient texts, and what we know of the Bronze Age from archaeology. Well-written and enjoyable.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, readable history of the Trojan War. Strauss avoids getting bogged down in the archaeological issues surrounding Schliemann’s discovery, and instead dives right into the Iliad’s narrative (as well as lesser-known works about the war). He treats Homer’s characters as real people and uses their story to tell the real story of ancient Greece.

Strauss is a pretty good writer, and he does a great job combining the dramatic narrative of the Iliad with what is actually known of this time period,
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strauss crafts a great short book, replete with quick prose, great language and interesting scholarship, tying together Egyptian and Hittite records to show that many of the outlandish tales from the Iliad and the Odyssey are not nearly as surprising as we might think. Anyone who has seriously enjoyed the epics would love this book, a contemporary version of the classic The World of Odyseeus by M.I. Finley. I highly recommend this book for novices and serious scholars. The approachable length ma ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homer
I grow weary of books on the Trojan War. Who was Homer? When did he live? Where did he come from? Did he compose in the Greek alphabet that was apparently adopted sometime around 750 B.C. or was he an oral poet who dictated his poems to a scribe? Were the Iliad and Odyssey composed by the same individual or by different authors? Was the author a man or a woman? If they were in fact oral compositions, how were poems of such extraordinary length recited -- piecemeal or in their entirety?

Is the cit
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, greek, greece
This feels like it started out as an annotated edition of the Iliad, and then ballooned into its own book, but it's still an entertaining read. The Trojan War goes through the Iliad (and later, a few other sources), treats the sack of Troy as if it was a historic event (including characters - they probably did not have these names, but similar people probably did exist - "Whether Helen’s face launched a thousand ships or none, queens of the Bronze Age wielded great power and kings made war over ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The cover says 'New History', but it should really say 'Homer had it right from the start'. Barry Strauss basically narrates the classic work and throws into the mix referencesto whatever archeological finds that suit his interpretation. A nice read in some respects, but fast and loose play with scant factual evidence makes it as plausible as a Hollywood movie. ...more
Adam Balshan
Apr 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars [History]

This is a decent book if you're not a historian. Historians will justifiably scoff at Strauss for presuming to put the word "history" in his subtitle. Basically, the author weaves several hundred generalizations (enriched by unending conjecture) into a somewhat systematic, somewhat chronological narrative. He tells what could have happened in the campaign for Troy, based upon Homer and broad historical data from the Hellene and Hittite cultures.

It was difficult for me to read
Hanna  (lapetiteboleyn)
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
A clear and concise primer to the Trojan War as a historical event rather than an epic poem. I enjoyed Strauss's sense of humour and his defense of Homer as a source, but there was also an awful lot of romantic imagining that got in the way of his evidence. ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author's understanding of what "really" happened insofar as we can reconstruct the story from Homer and the archaeological discoveries of the last 200 years. ...more
[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.]
There's about 30 pages of actual history in here, but I guess at least it's written well. Pity, I usually love Strauss. ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Did really Trojan war happened?
Barry Strauss gave more historical analysis and comparisons about the war.
A lot to know about the war. Nice book.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book! Mr. Strauss does a fantastic job of taking historical facts about warfare and culture of Ancient Greece and Troy and then applying those facts to Homer’s Iliad. This integration shows us how the Iliad can be read, interpreted, and enjoyed for its accuracy and poetic license.
K. A. MacKinnon
This is not the book I wanted it to be. Unless you have a burning desire to have the sack of Troy retold by your high school English teacher (you know, the one who had delusions of being a novelist), it’s probably not the book you wanted it to be, either.

The biggest problem is the book has no idea whether it wants to be fact or fiction, so it tries to be both. It isn’t about examining the historical/archaeological evidence to establish whether Homer’s version of the tale could be true. It takes
Rick Davis

It’s a bold move to write a sober history of a mostly legendary war like the Trojan War, but Barry Strauss succeeds in doing just that. The Trojan War is made up of two strands of narrative interwoven throughout the book. One strand is a history of the practices of warfare in the Late Bronze Age in both Anatolia and Mycenaean Greece. Strauss pulls from recent archaeological discoveries, ancient records and letters, and ancient poetry and literature in order to reconstruct the politics and paraph
Pretty decent book.
I read this before I read the Illiad (not finished yet, but I already read a primer on the Illiad/other myths so I knew what was going on) and it explained everything nicely.

This book's goal is to basically legitimize the Trojan War into something that really happened using both old and new evidence. It's very interesting because the way the author puts it at the very minimum, it genuinely looks like something did happen.

One of the best thing in this book was the description
Will Jeffrey
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much I immediately lent it out to my mother, and I hope it has made the rounds of the family. Ever since I was a kid with my children's Goldenbook version of both of Homer's epics I have been fascinated with the stories. As an adult I have come to appreciate the storys' plot, dialog, reflection of Bronze age life and culture. Yet always I loved the heroes, the adventure,and of course the percentages of fact and fiction to the legend.
For years, I followed the latest archeolo
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, history
I was expecting Strauss' The Trojan War: A New History to be a scholarly study of every detail we have about the Trojan world; basically an updated version of In Search of the Trojan War . Instead, it is a more scholarly Age of Bronze Volume 1: A Thousand Ships . The book is structured around the story of the Trojan War, which is then clothed in modern archaeology, and decorated with Homer.

And it works. Taking the view that the Trojan War is based on something that happened, the book gives
B. Rule
This book is touted as a reexamination of the Trojan War through new archaeological and/or historical research. In fact, I'd say only a third of the book, at best, conforms to that description. There are occasional references to new archaeological discoveries, and a fair number of comparisons to other Bronze Age cultures, together with basically baseless extrapolations to what may have been true for the Greeks and Trojans. In fact, a great deal of this book is sort of pipe-puffing "what ifs" wit ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few chapters of this and I think I know why I'm not sold on it -- it's written by a Classics professor. While the book purports to include a story bolstered by archaeological evidence, this basically boils down to "Well, Homer describes similar stuff to that which has been discovered in Anatolia, so let's assume that Helen was a real person." There's a logical leap here that I find troubling; rather than being *based* on archaeological evidence, Strauss's book (while entertaining) us ...more
Summarised in one word, Speculative. An entertaining read lively and vibrantly written it is however very short on history it alternates between a blow by blow retelling of the Iliad akin to a spark notes summary and imaginative speculation based on very scant evidence that at times borders on historical fiction. Anyone unfamiliar with the Torjan war or who has not read the Iliad might get some value of this as an entertaining and concise summary of both but to anyone already familiar with eithe ...more
Owen O'Neill
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book, very well researched. I had the pleasure of discussing this book personally with Prof. Strauss, and my only complaint is that his publisher did not allow him to go into greater depth. His work clearly shows the sophisticated nature of the conflict behind legend. Highly recommended!
Nathan Albright
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2018
This is actually the second time I have read this book.  In fact, although I got this particular volume that I read this time from the library, I own (or at least owned) a copy of this before from my earlier military history reading during the age before I blogged all of my book reviews.  Is this work reading twice?  It's an enjoyable and easy to read book by a contemporary classicist and military historian who views Homer as a generally reliable source when it comes to Bronze Age warfare when r ...more
Daniel Greear
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had grand hopes for the number of books I wanted to read in 2020, but as we all know, 2020 has been a different year. To my surprise and anguish, this is only the fifteenth book I've read since January. But hey, there are still a few months left in the year and I'm hoping for a strong finish.

The Trojan War, the Iliad, Homer, et al, sit in the conscious of any person raised or studied in Western Civilization. Most of us have known the story since we were young and if you're like me, you probab
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Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, Masters of Command, The Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars.

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