I’m gearing up for a school weekend, so posting might be light for a bit. Or I might be just fine, because I notice I tend to post when under stress.
This week I’ve been enjoying “The History of the Ancient World“, a book that would have made my Western Civ classes in college go much, much smoother had it been around back then. I’m a closet history fan, enough to admit to having read Will Durant’s mammoth “Story of Civilization” books for pleasure, but that’s mostly because Durant presents history as a grand narrative and not a laundry list of names, places, and dates. Susan Wise Bauer does the same thing here.
She even goes a step further, not merely mentioning that so-and-so empire invaded another, but the current reasoning on why they invaded – overpopulation, perhaps, or environmental reasons like famine, drought, or natural disaster. Also, she throws some pop-culture references around – when discussing a mostly unknown culture in India who built their cities to incredibly exacting standards, she throws out a Borg reference. Then, her academic training kicking in, she feels the need to explain herself in a footnote, discussing who the Borg are and why she used them in her example.
The book is great fun for history geeks, and far more accessible to the average reader than your basic doorstop of a college text. Not for all audiences, naturally, or even many of them, but it may appeal to the History Channel geek within.