This lively and dramatic book brings roaring to life the grand sweep of 5,000 years of history in the cradle of civilization.
A colorful account of the civilizations that rose and fell on the lands bordering the Mediterranean, The Middle Sea represents the culmination of a great historian’s unparalleled art and scholarship. John Julius Norwich provides brilliant portraits of the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the French, the Venetians, the Popes, and the pirates of the Gulf. Above all, he deftly traces the intermingling of ancient conflicts and modern sensibilities that shapes life today on the shores of the Middle Sea.
©2006 John Julius Norwich (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"Norwich’s focus plays to his strengths as a military historian, and he produces, over six hundred pages, a highly readable chronicle." (The New Yorker)
"Norwich is irresistibly readable...superbly erudite yet having a sense of popular taste...A fine single-volume history suited to any collection." (Booklist)
“Norwich's history of the Mediterranean is a cause for celebration...A demonstration of his unrivaled narrative skills...No one planning a simple vacation by the wine-dark sea can afford to leave this book at home." (The Washington Post)
Lord Norwich's account of the Mediterranean will disappoint readers of his histories of Venice, Byzantium, and Norman Italy, since it is a much more superficial run through of much the same territory, but one too spotty to do any part of the subject justice. As a quick review of the outlines of history once taught in "Western Civ." courses, however, it is not bad. The reading, however, will not serve those new to the subject well at all, since it may leave them thinking that many words, especially names, are pronounced in the eccentric ways in which Trivette renders them. Readers more familiar with the subject will simply find those blunders grating and distracting.
I had to stop listening to this book within the first chapter after the narrator, who has a grating Midwest American accent, so totally mispronounced important words that it became impossible to tolerate any longer. I deeply wish I could get my credit back in order to get another book.
I really liked the concept of this book, which is a "biography" of the cultures Mediterranean sea and their conflicts from antiquity to the end of the First World War. In places, it's a great story, full of interesting and colorful anecdotes. It suffers from two main faults, as I see it.
First, after the fall of Rome, and certainly once he enters into the 19th century, Norwich shifts to an almost exclusive discussion of the various conflicts that swept across the Mediterranean littoral over the last 1000 years. While these are important, and have consequences we live with to this day, the shifting of borders and movements of armies doesn't translate well to audio. Moreover, after the fall of Rome he all but entirely drops the discussion of cultural developments, ethnic interactions, and social forces which had been discussed more thoroughly when dealing with the empires of antiquity. The Renaissance gets barely a mention, nor is there any discussion of the flow of knowledge and technologies across the Mediterranean.
Second, the narrator is a huge distraction. I thought that "Alpha Trivette" was the name of a crappy text-to-speech program, but according to IMDB he is an actual actor of some sort. However, he has the most jarring delivery, often pausing at odd spots mid-sentence; I set the playback speed to 1.25x to smooth out the flow, which helped. Worse still, he has a tin ear for the pronunciation of, well, every other language spoken around the Mediterranean. For example, the Italian name Gugliermo is rendered "googly-ermo" rather than "gool-yer-mo," the Israeli port of Acre is rendered "ack-ree" rather than "aker," and on and on. I wish readers would check on the pronunciation of words they were unfamiliar with before jumping in and thoroughly mangling everything.
Does Audible.com even LISTEN to its product before they ask its Members to shell out credits or money? "The Middle Sea" is a history of the Mediterranean civilization going back 5,000 years. For some inexplicable reason, the book is narrated by a little known American actor named ALPHA TRIVETTE - yes, ALPHA TRIVETTE - who, like his name, sounds the stereotypical Sheriff of a small western town during the cowboy era. He stumbles and bumbles through the plethora of foreign names, locations and languages. After only 30 minutes of this hayseed massacre, I wanted Doc Holliday to take me up to Boot Hill and SHOOT me in my Tony Llamas! There's no way I could have made it through almost 30 HOURS!!! I enjoyed "Absolute Monarchs" by John Julius Norwich but it was narrated by the awesome Michael Page. Alpha may be an "actor" (at least, according to IMDB) but he is no narrator - I wouldn't listen to him reading "Lonesome Dove"!! You're a daisy if you waste money on this big ole bag o' fertilizer!
There is no sense of purpose or direction. The reader was terrible. I think it would require a complete re-do. it is the first and only Audible Book I truly disliked and could not finish.
Never, if that is the name of the reader
compelling, instructive, alluring
provided enough origin story on which to base the development of civilization in the Mediterranean. the history of the countries of the Med and the cultures moving through are fascinating because many of us trace our own origins to the area and most of us appreciate the contributions made to humankind evolving out of the Middle Sea.
either my French and Italian teachers were all wrong, or this man does not have a good handle on phrases or place names.
the longest movie ever filmed
please provide more audio books of John Julius Norwich' work
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