The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome

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Overview

A lively and engaging narrative history showing the common threads in the cultures that gave birth to our own.
This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history.Dozens of maps provide a clear geography of great events, while timelines give the reader an ongoing sense of the passage of years and cultural interconnection. This old-fashioned narrative history employs the methods of “history from beneath”—literature, epic traditions, private letters and accounts—to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled. The result is an engrossing tapestry of human behavior from which we may draw conclusions about the direction of world events and the causes behind them.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Author of a captivating history series for children, William & Mary professor Susan Wise Bauer understands better than most the importance of human interest in engaging your audience. Now she applies her elegant writing style and superlative storytelling skills to an eagerly anticipated four-book series for adults. This project aims to provide readers with an entertaining narrative survey of the rise of Western civilization; but the author will also strive to connect that story to historical events unfolding in the Middle and Far East. If we are to judge from this inaugural volume, she is well on her way to achieving her goal.
Publishers Weekly
Bauer (author of the four-volume The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child) guides readers on a fast-paced yet thorough tour of the ancient worlds of Sumer, Egypt, India, China, Greece, Mesopotamia and Rome. Drawing on epics, legal texts, private letters and court histories, she introduces individuals who lived through the famines, plagues, floods, wars and empire building of the ancient world: the marvelous array of characters includes Gilgamesh, Sumer's first epic hero; Y , the founder of the Xia dynasty in China; and Tiglath-Pileser III, who restored the Assyrian empire's fortunes. Because Bauer covers so much time and territory, she focuses on the Western cultures with which she seems most comfortable; the chapters on Asia and India are the least developed. In addition, some of her assertions-for instance, that the biblical book of Joshua is the clearest guide we possess to the establishment of an Israelite kingdom in Canaan-contradict general scholarly opinion or are simply wrong. However, Bauer's elegant prose and her command of much of the material makes this a wonderful starting point for the study of the ancient world. 80 maps. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Bauer (American literature, Coll. of William & Mary; The Well-Educated Mind) has produced a good introductory history to the ancient world in this first volume of a new series. Divided into more than 80 chapters, the work focuses on Western history but devotes space to the development of ancient civilizations in China and India. Time lines, 13 illustrations, and 80 maps are interspersed throughout to help guide readers through the twists and turns of assassinations, wars, and natural disasters that largely make up the history of the ancient world. An endnotes and a works-cited section are included. Those looking for a more scholarly examination may want to turn to D. Brendan Nagle's The Ancient World: A Social and Cultural History, but Bauer's book is recommended for all libraries needing a good primer on ancient history. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/1/06.]
—Sean Michael Fleming
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Susan Wise Bauer is the best-selling author of the Story of the World series, The Well-Trained Mind, The Well-Educated Mind, The History of the Ancient World, and The History of the Medieval World. She lives in Charles City, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2007

    Coherent and entertaining

    This really is a world history of ancient cultures--it ranges from Mesopotamia all the way east to the Chinese coast and all the way west to the British Isles. Bauer uses original sources as well as plenty of myths and legends to illuminate the bare-bones facts of history, fulfilling her promise to give us a glimpse not only of what ancient peoples did, but what they thought and feared. As an avid reader, I've read plenty of history, and I've delved deep into some areas. The wonderful quality of THIS book is that it allows me to link my knowledge of my favorite historical eras with my much sketchier and sometimes nonexistent knowledge of others. There's plenty to think about here, and plenty to disagree with--Bauer doesn't just give facts. She tells an interpretive story that centers around why and how some men--and much less frequently, women--are able to gain power over others. But agree or disagree, you'll find yourself constantly going back to her framework as you plug in other pieces of historical knowledge.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2008

    Student of history: This is a must read for any serious student

    This book engaged me from the first page to the last. It is organized in small, readily digested chapters. Though the subject is sweeping in scope, it is covered in sufficient detail. One thing different about this is book is that the author does not adhere to the general hero worship of the so called great men/women of history, many of whom were despotic murderers. She portrays in a just the facts manner. I have read and reread this book several times and consider it an indespensible addition to my library.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    History with anecdotes

    With so much knowledge and with an exhaustive research, Susan Bauer wrote an interesting historical account of the Ancient Wold interrelating cultures and civilizations under specific themes allowing a comparative analysis and establishing a broad view of these societies.
    With anecdotes of historical figures, the book is easy to read so it is not just for the history student or for a library consultation.
    Well written the author included easy charts at the end of each chapter to facilitate the chronological frame.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    A reviewer

    Loved it. Looking forward to the next volume in the series. Enjoyed the humor, which was not overdone. Still thinking about it days later, and I miss reading it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    Excellent

    Well written, highly readable survey of ancient history. It's too bad most history textbooks are not as well done. If you are looking for one book to provide general knowledge of the period that provided the foundation for Western Civilization. It's fun too. Find out what Bugs Bunny knew about ancient kings.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great Historical Story

    Susan Wise Bauer brings the ancient world to life through story, narrative, fable, and straight talk. I only have one criticism, its a little too long and detailed for the time I have to set aside for reading. Other than that, it is an enlightening look at what the ancient world was and was not. If you are a teacher of ancient history, it is a phenomenal book for conversation starters, juxtaposing poor textbook writing with the narrative of an accomplished historical writer, and for attention grabbers. If you are simply looking to flesh out your historical knowledge on the Ancient World, I would look for another book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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