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Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,196 ratings  ·  100 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 (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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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
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
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.
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
Decent descriptive overview. Martin’s opinions reflect today’s prejudices.
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
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.
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.
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.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-15, history, 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.
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
J. G. M.
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
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
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I had to read this book for my Ancient Greek and Ancient Rome class. I was very unsure of having to read this as a text book, but I am very impressed with the amount of knowledge I was able to learn from reading it. Very informative and filled with a great amount of primary and secondary resources.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent chronological overview with a fairly detailed look at Ancient Greece. Don't look for anything groundbreaking here - this is purely a historical survey of the subject. I found it a great refresher as well as a pleasant way to look closer at Greece during my own studies of the Mediterranean and Near East prior to the Rise of Rome.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent introduction to Greek history. Going into this with very little knowledge of Greek culture, outside of the more well-known elements (Plato, The Acropolis, Sparta, etc.), I found it to be a perfect primer to help fill the gaps in my knowledge on the subject. The information provided was concise, engaging and rarely dry.
Rob Roy
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love history, but the exception has always been ancient Greece. I think it is the difficulty in pronouncing the names. None the less, I have in the last few years read several books that were about ancient Greece. Martin's book is the overview for me to put it all together, and see if the chronology in my mind is right. If you are looking for an overview, I do recommend this history.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful for me for the basic political history - which, still, is a little suspect in terms of its analysis, because the intellectual history is quite reductive. It's a wonder I often forget how much Ancient Greek history has to rely on literary sources and "histories" by Thucydides and Herodotus!
Zeh Fernando
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible retelling of about a thousand years of the history of civilization. Talks about what we know with maps and time tables where appropriate, expands on what we don't by listing the clues we have. Amazing.
Jacob Vander Weit
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mythology, history, philosophy, etc. The defining characteristics of ancient civilization. Thomas R. Martin effortlessly walks the reader through a millennium, from Mycennae to Alexander The Great. Highly recommended to anyone interested in civilizations roots.
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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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