Nonfiction, History, Sociology

The Greeks by Roderick Beaton

A Global History

Back in the spring, Laura and our mom took a trip to Greece to celebrate Laura’s 30th birthday. I did not get to go, so instead decided to read (well, listen to) a Greek history book by a professor from Laura’s history masters’ program alma mater, King’s College in London!

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
More than two thousand years ago, the Greek city-states, led by Athens and Sparta, laid the foundation for much of modern science, the arts, politics, and law. But the influence of the Greeks did not end with the rise and fall of this classical civilization. As historian Roderick Beaton illustrates, over three millennia Greek speakers produced a series of civilizations that were rooted in southeastern Europe but again and again ranged widely across the globe.

In The Greeks, Beaton traces this history from the Bronze Age Mycenaeans who built powerful fortresses at home and strong trade routes abroad, to the dramatic Eurasian conquests of Alexander the Great, to the pious Byzantines who sought to export Christianity worldwide, to today’s Greek diaspora, which flourishes on five continents. The product of decades of research, this is the story of the Greeks and their global impact told as never before.

Review

I took all the requisite ancient history classes required of me as a history major in college, but I never really got into actual Greek history, I mostly just enjoyed the myths. I’ve read and watched a lot of Greek-inspired media from 300 to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and enjoyed it all so I was curious about how Beaton would boil down this vast history into one book.

The global history subtitle refers to the fact that The Greeks is focused on those who have spoken the Greek language throughout history, not just the geographical location we now think of as the modern day country as Greece. He hits on everything that makes up a civilization: archeology, philosophy, mythology, anthropology, sociology, history, geography, politics, economics, and linguistics; and the result is a very accessible, very readable, history of one of the world’s oldest groups of people.

It’s hard to go into a full review of everything because the scope is incredibly broad, but if you’re looking for an easy entry point into the history of the Greek people, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Beaton’s The Greeks.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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