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The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind | [Justin Pollard, Howard Reid]

The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind

Founded by Alexander the Great and built by self-styled Greek pharaohs, the city of Alexandria at its height dwarfed both Athens and Rome. It was the marvel of its age, legendary for its vast palaces, safe harbors, and magnificent lighthouse. But it was most famous for the astonishing intellectual efflorescence it fostered and the library it produced. If the European Renaissance was the "rebirth" of Western culture, then Alexandria, Egypt, was its birthplace.
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Publisher's Summary

Founded by Alexander the Great and built by self-styled Greek pharaohs, the city of Alexandria at its height dwarfed both Athens and Rome. It was the marvel of its age, legendary for its vast palaces, safe harbors, and magnificent lighthouse. But it was most famous for the astonishing intellectual efflorescence it fostered and the library it produced. If the European Renaissance was the "rebirth" of Western culture, then Alexandria, Egypt, was its birthplace.

It was here mankind first discovered that the earth was not flat, originated atomic theory, invented geometry, systematized grammar, translated the Old Testament into Greek, built the steam engine, and passed their discoveries on to future generations via the written word. Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Jewish scholars, Greek philosophers, and devout early Christians all play a part in the rise and fall of the city that stood "at the conjunction of the whole world". Sparkling with fresh insights into science, philosophy, culture, and invention, this is an irresistible, edifying delight.

©2006 Justin Pollard and Howard Reid; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A nourishing account." (Publishers Weekly)
"Classical history buffs will savor this survey." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jeffrey Pheonix, AZ, USA 10-02-08
    Jeffrey Pheonix, AZ, USA 10-02-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good listen"

    I would call this book a sort of "missing link." Not in the regard of new information or discovery but in the sense that most people are taught history in a sort of huge bulleted list. The way I was taught history, it was like reading a paper that has no transition sentences and therefore the relevance of each event was not adequately portrayed. In other words, I knew something about Alexandria, something about Alexander the great's importance to the Roman empire, and something about the library and the lighthouse. Also, with a background in science, the stories of archimedes and the like were briefly told to me. However this book is a good explanation of the actual story and importance of the history of this pivotal city. I especially enjoyed learning its role in the rise and characterization of christianity.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA 06-28-11
    Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA 06-28-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3174
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    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    I'd read a little bit about Alexandria (mostly in Stacy Schiff's book on Cleopatra), but I never dreamed its history was so intimately connected with such vast stretches of the intellectual, political, and religious history of the ancient world. Pollard and Reid spin a fascinating yarn that unites Alexander the Great, the Septuagint, maps of the world, clocks and odometers, Cleopatra, the steam engine, animatronics, and the brutal killing of Hypatia in a single overarching narrative. And when I mention those items of particular interest (to me), I'm only scratching the surface. A brilliant history with an unusual approach, and (as usual) impeccable narration from Simon Vance.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Arkansas 09-08-08
    Amazon Customer Arkansas 09-08-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderfull walk"

    Highly recommend to anyone interested in history, any history. I throw my hat in with the other reviewers, this book is how history should be written. It ties facts with what you know so that you find yourself nodding and wondering why you had not figured that one out. They weave their narrative with events, people and places so well that you feel you know where they are taking you but lighting up sights you have never seen. For ancient history buffs it is a must read.

    Nothing helps a good book like a good narrator. Simon Vance has been and continues to be at the top of this profession. With 152 narrations on audible I have a lot of listening to do.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brett moraga, CA, United States 04-29-07
    brett moraga, CA, United States 04-29-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
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    39
    8
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    5
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    Overall
    "Excellent"

    I really enjoyed this book. Its the kind of history writing that I find very appealing, its colorful, insightful and factual without becoming too dry and scholarly. The narration is superb. A very engrossing an entertaining book!

    34 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nikolas Manchester, NH, USA 04-17-10
    Nikolas Manchester, NH, USA 04-17-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "A must read"

    This book gives an excellent description of the Greek, Egyptian and Roman history for about 500 years (400 BC to 100 AD) around the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East. It deals with philosophy, medicine, astronomy, physics, alchemy, geography, religion, war tacticts and more.... Such a wealth of knowledge. Not to mention the perfect narration.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Atlanta, GA, USA 10-17-07
    Leslie Atlanta, GA, USA 10-17-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
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    "entertaining"

    I loved this book. I learned so much about ancient history. And who knew that Reid and Pollard could make it so interesting. I was hooked from the moment it started and I was pleasantly suprised that it was such a intriguing and effortless read. But then, all history should be like that.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 09-18-07
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 09-18-07 Member Since 2001

    BJS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Touching on so many facts"

    I love history, and the ancients have always fascinated me, for with out them who would we be. The loss of the library of Alexandria is something that to this day breaks my heart. What wonders could have been transcribed. But this book has many little nuances about the different classes of citizens that inhabited the city over the ages enlightening and enjoyable.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chidi Plymouth, MN, USA 08-19-08
    Chidi Plymouth, MN, USA 08-19-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "The Best Book I have read in a long time!!!"

    This book is fantastic!! Like all of us I am a lover of history but this book ranks in my top ten and I would advise everyone to read it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis Austin, TX, United States 10-05-09
    Curtis Austin, TX, United States 10-05-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Birthplace Of Knowledge"

    Some might feel that Alexandria was not the start of the modern thinking mind. I differ on that feeling. This book points out the reasons for that sentiment. This was the place where all the original thinkers came from. Yes, Greece started it, but Alexandria completes it. This book is excellent and covers everything a person would want to know about ancient Alexandria and more. This book also serves as a good lead-in to any history of the Roman Empire as well. The narration is good. The book never lags in its coverage of this magnificent city and all the treasures it holds for the listener. I say enjoy. Worth the listen!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 08-12-10
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 08-12-10 Member Since 2005

    Curtis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Packed Full of History, Science, Math, Philosophy"

    If you want to know more about this incredible place and time for all of the above subjects as well as an interesting interplay of Judaism, Christianity, and Paganism, this is a great one-stop source. I learned much about the great minds of the past and the context of their discoveries.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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