Have been fascinated by Rome's legions since reading Asterix as a kid. This work was incredibly detailed and never got the feeling it was waffling or in need of editing. A real sense of immediacy. Narrator's voice is not particularly enthralling but a long way from soporific. One ommission (shared with many other works) is that it's not always clear what circumstances in a battle led one of two otherwise evenly matched armies to victory.
Presents the compelling argument that Europe and the middle east have been culturally divided since pre-history, irrespective of which empires and religions have ruled them. Main concern is the author is careless to the point of amateurish with his fact(oid) checking. These are rarely central to his thesis but do detract from its impact. (ie "'Veni vidi vici' uttered by Julius Caesar after his conquest of Britain' - um, no, he reputedly said them of Pontus, and his brief incursion into Britain was anything but a conquest)
How Bill Bryson managed to write this after only a few years of study (apparently) beggars belief. A truly brilliant achievement that elucidates concepts even to technically proficient listeners without at any point alienating the lay person.
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