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Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,441 ratings  ·  120 reviews

In this compact yet comprehensive history of ancient Greece, Thomas R. Martin brings alive Greek civilization from its Stone Age roots to the fourth century B.C. Focusing on the development of the Greek city-state and the society, culture, and architecture of Athens in its Golden Age, Martin integrates political, military, social, and cultural history in a book that will a

Paperback, 254 pages
Published August 11th 2000 by Yale University Press
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Crystal Starr Light
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting more background on Ancient Greece
Recommended to Crystal Starr Light by: Iset
Bullet Review:

Took me nearly a year, but hot damn, it's done!

This is a great, detailed book about life for the Ancient Greeks, from the early, early days to the last days of Queen Cleopatra (you know, the famous one that Elizabeth Taylor played). I don't know how Martin did it, but he struck that perfect writing tone of being highly intellectual but highly approachable as well.

Please Note: The fact it took me so long to finish should NOT be indicative of the value of the subject matter or the qu

It’s worth noting that whilst this book was originally published in 1996, this is the second edition, fully revised and updated in 2013.

This book came to my attention when I was reading through book samples looking for the perfect gift for my friend with no prior knowledge of the history of ancient Greece. Just from the sample, Ancient Greece by Thomas Martin seemed ideal. The book is structured in a straightforwards chronological sequence rather than by theme, which for the beginner helps to be
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
When (if) covid ends and normalcy returns, my husband and I decided that we want to visit Greece. We are preparing by reading and taking Great Courses about the ancients and searching for books about contemporary Greece. (Any recommendations?)

The Great Courses series on Ancient Greece suggested Martin's book as a course companion. I had read it before and enjoyed it more this time around. It is a well written, high readable survey of Greek history from Prehistoric to Hellenistic times. One of
Sep 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Solid overview but with no substantial thesis. Martin focuses on the plight of the common man, women, and slaves whose existence changed little from down through the ages. Martin documents it as "nasty, brutish, and short" no matter the period: prehistoric, classical, or hellenistic.

The prose is accessible though not not especially memorable. Discussions are informative with a few quotes from the primary sources but more would've been welcome. The arts are given a fair shake as well as the phil
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For a brief history, this book packs in a lot of information! Written in an easy-to-follow and accessible style (as in - not "stuffy"), it covers the Stone Age to the mid-600s BCE. We learn that Nia Vardalos father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was right when he said "ask me a word and I will tell you how it comes from Greek" many words which have their origin in the language are discovered here. With maps, photos and time-lines, the book covers the advent of peoples first settling in the r ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ancient Greek history is colourful, foreign, and still so very much like recent and contemporary history. Full review to come.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
less than three hundred pages? i can read this book in a week.

turns out, i could not.

although, to be fair, i did move across the globe to start a postgraduate degree (not involded with history, mind you) and it has been a crazy couple of weeks.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Martin's Ancient Greece is basically an overview of Ancient Greece that starts with the prehistory of Greece (specifically Greece before the Greeks) and ends with the fall of the Successor kingdoms. This book is purely an overview, and does not go into much detail, which is fine. Alexander is not given as much attention as his father, Philip II. I assume because the author was trying to focus more on what was happening in Greece during Alexander's reign rather than the Middle East or Asia ...more
Janna G. Noelle
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For its slender size of only 221 pages of actual history, this book is a tremendously comprehensive overview of ancient Greece. Beginning with the Stone Age, it covers all the major turning point of Greek history including the Mycenaean and subsequent Dark eras, the progression from oligarchy to tyranny to democracy in ancient Athens, the Persian wars, the Athenian Empire, the Peloponnesian War, and the Hellenistic Age. It also discussed how the early Greeks owed an intellectual debt to earlier ...more
Tyler Groshong
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic! Very engagingly written, and was never dry at any point. Martin is always clear about how women and lower-class citizens/slaves were largely excluded from the historical narrative. Every chapter begins with a chronology and map to accompany that chapter's content. Would highly recommend this as the first book for anyone interested in the history of ancient Greece. ...more
Decent descriptive overview. Martin’s opinions reflect today’s prejudices.
Gayla Bassham
So to give you some context, we decided (fingers crossed!) to vacation in Greece this fall after we drop our youngest off for his first year at college and I immediately compiled a twenty-book reading list because of course I did.

This was book number one! I chose it to get a quick overview of the history of ancient Greece, because I haven't really studied it since I took Search in 1990. If an overview is what you're looking for, this is the book for you. It gives a survey of the major highlights
Elizabeth Sulzby
I found this book unbearably dull--about a topic which I am avid about. The introduction about the transition from hunter-gather to agricultural and later versions of settled cooperative communities is OK for an introductory text. The book appears to have been conceived as an introductory text but without any "bringing to life" of the content. My rating is really 2.5. ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a long overview of the history of Greece from its inception to about the time of the Roman Empire's absorption of it. As a history book, it will be dry to most people. However, it has a lot of interesting information to one who enjoys history, from trends in philosophy, science and entertainment to individual leaders' lives and the outcomes of various battles. ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good quick overview of the basics of Greek history. Basically, the major happenings. I thought the writing was very accessible and not too dense for a beginner or a person with a casual interest.
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good and well organized overview of Greek history from prehistory through the Hellenistic Age.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great, well written overview.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
Generally informative overview over the history of Ancient Greece that covers a lot of ground in fairly few pages but was a little too dry - despite my interest in the subject, I found my attention wandering at times.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, age-15, war
I didn't read it cover to cover, but I've read a fair bit of it for history assignments and such, and it's a really good textbook. ...more
Nathan Albright
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2018
When an author has roughly 200 pages to cover the entirety of Greek history from prehistoric times to the Hellenistic age [1], you get a real sense of their perspective on history as a whole and what they consider important.  Some writers try to cover a lot in a survey fashion, pointing readers to where more detailed information can be provided but seeking to give as much of the overview as possible.  Other writers have a few interests that they follow, ignoring wide swaths of history and contex ...more
Anthony Ibrakhim
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think Ancient Greece has the greatest impact in the world. The book makes a great point about Ancient Greece and its people. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to get an introduction of Ancient Greece. The book does not cover everything, but it does give a lot of important information. As the title of the books says, the books goes from Prehistoric times of Ancient Greece to the Hellenistic Times. The book is hard to understand, that's why I would say take your time when reading the ...more
Brendan Steinhauser
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read about ancient Greece. The author, Thomas Martin, covers everything from the people inhabiting Greece centuries before the classical age to the rise and fall of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic age. The book is fascinating, well written, and concise. It provides a good overview of Greek history, with an introduction to some of the most important events, thinkers, and battles in the vast time period covered.

Anyone interested in diving deeper into the
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The writing style of this book is probably best suited towards the earliest parts of Greek history since there aren't too many details available and this isn't a very long book (215 pages). So the first part of the book dealing with Minoans and Mycenaeans was the most enjoyable. Later, you will read about the Peloponnesian war without much room to let the drama roll out, and learn about Greek artistic, political, and scientific achievements pretty briefly. But, I pushed through, learned lots, an ...more
Denise Ziegler
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Seems I learn something new every day
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On my reason for reading this book:

To know the civilization that created/discovered/invented: Botany, Zoology, Geography, Medicine, Philosophy, Philology, Mathematics, Engineering, Anatomy, Rhetoric, Logic, Literary criticism, Universities and research institutes, Architecture, Urbanism, Political Science, History, Historiography, Anthropology, Comparative Theology, Theater, Comedy, Musicology (and some of the best music ever), Western Literature, Poetry (some of the best and as a subject of stu
Robert Kleinberg
Jun 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
A very good introduction to ancient Greece and its profound cultural achievements.

Martin starts with a chapter on prehistory which is not really about Greece at all, and gets sidetracked with speculation - for example, that the development of agricultural society resulted in women taking a subordinate social position.

However, from chapter two the book provides a clear, straightforward account of the economic, political, social and cultural development of Greece. Its strength is in description ra
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific book for those who are looking to sweep through centuries of Ancient Greek history in a small amount of time.
As the author later confesses in the epilogue of the book that it is an intentionally brief and selective narrative of this fascinating time in human history.
This is the go to book for beginners. The book doesn't contain the academic tone and you will find yourself slipping into your imagination and finding yourself somewhere in the ancient Greek world.
It is pretty deta
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
As good an introduction as one can expect from as easy a read as this.

While all eras are reasonably covered, this can be considered as a paean to the freedom of speech that was unique to Greece. The best example of it (by way of Plutarch) is a commoner wanting Aristides the "Just" to be ostracized solely because he was sick of Aristides being way too popular for his just orientation.

However, the author sensibly advocates the exercise of caution in the evaluation of the Greeks and Greek-influence
Wonderful! Martin does a wonderful job at sparking a deeper fascination in his readers about the ancient world by offering here just a taste of what it was like. Further, he reasserts the value in finding and studying primary sources for yourself in order to find your own personal interpretation of history. He makes clear what his opinions as an historian are and encourages his readers to argue, not support his ideas. After all, history isn’t written, it’s interpreted. This is one of the first h ...more
Kevin Sood
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The book was pretty straight forward. It touched on history from the Minoans, the Mycenaean, the Greek City-States of Athens and Sparta, and all the way to post Alexander the Great and the Hellenic kingdoms. The only areas where the book gets bogged down is when Martin starts detailing lifestyles and the working habits of the ancient peoples. This takes up a majority of the first half of the book, but after that it starts to pick up when he goes into the many aspects of the Greek City-States.
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Thomas R. Martin is an American historian who is a specialist in the history of the Greco-Roman world. He currently holds the chair "Jeremiah O'Connor" in the Department of Classics at the College of the Holy Cross, where he teaches courses on the Athenian democracy, Hellenism and the Roman Empire.

His research field covers the history of ancient Greece and Rome and numismatics. He is author and c

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