• Babylon

  • Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization
  • By: Paul Kriwaczek
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (668 ratings)

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Babylon  By  cover art

Babylon

By: Paul Kriwaczek
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
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Publisher's summary

Civilization was born 8,000 years ago, between the floodplains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, when migrants from the surrounding mountains and deserts began to create increasingly sophisticated urban societies. In the cities that they built, half of human history took place.

In Babylon, Paul Kriwaczek tells the story of Mesopotamia from the earliest settlements seven thousand years ago to the eclipse of Babylon in the sixth century BCE. Bringing the people of this land to life in vibrant detail, the author chronicles the rise and fall of power during this period and explores the political and social systems, as well as the technical and cultural innovations, which made this land extraordinary. At the heart of this book is the story of Babylon, which rose to prominence under the Amorite king Hammurabi from about 1800 BCE. Even as Babylon's fortunes waxed and waned, it never lost its allure as the ancient world's greatest city.

Engaging and compelling, Babylon reveals the splendor of the ancient world that laid the foundation for civilization itself.

©2010 Paul Kriwaczek (P)2019 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Babylon

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Solid overview 3000 years of history

One reviewer said he could not finish because of a pretentious style. I bet he got to chapter 3 and then gave up.

Through the first 3 chapters, I could understand where he was coming from. They are basically a setup and introduction to the subject, and they *are* a little wordy and somewhat boring.

But, if you push onto chapters 4 and then 5 then you get into the meat of the history and you really get what you came for. I was hooked and listened right through to the end.

Look, the book is 12 hours. It gives you the broad strokes and includes a lot of interesting tidbits for the Bronze age novice. It was just what I was looking for. (I.e How slingers were used. The economic setup. How the first armies may have come about.)

Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant is 50 hours and covers the same ground. I have now spent a credit on that book since this book interested me in the subject.

I recommend it but just push through the introductory chapters.

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48 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Mesopotamia - the birthplace of cities

Listening to this book has been a real eye-opener for me. I have always had the perception that Egypt was where civilization as we know it originated and that the Greeks took what they had gathered from the Egyptians and expanded on that to form what we know of today as our democratic societies. I was aware that somewhere around the same time as the Egyptian kingdoms were flourishing that there were societies in the area of Mesopotamia, but never really had more than a fuzzy picture of what those societies actually were. This book goes into detail of how much of what we have credited the Greeks and Egyptians with were actually from Mesopotamia. For example, Pythagoras' formula for finding the length of the third side of a triangle was known in Mesopotamia a thousand years before Pythagoras lived.

I found this book to be well researched and written so as make it easy to follow the course of events as they happened in the various areas of Mesopotamia. The author did this in a way that included important personalities but did not focus solely on that; instead, including what life was like for the typical person, how the society functioned economically and administratively, how various migrations effected the make up and direction of a particular culture, and how for 2500 years Mesopotamia was a major center of the world for the birthing processes of human civilization. This book was a pleasure to listen to. The reader did a great job with a very clear and pleasant voice. I was successfully introduced to a world that I barely knew existed, and I'm very grateful to both the author and the reader for that.

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23 people found this helpful

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Wonderful and relevant history of Mesopotamia

I have studied ancient Near East culture and literature as part of my doctoral and professorial work for forty-five years. This book connected the many dkts I have acquired into a sensible picture of the whole. I enjoyed Kriwaczek's insightful connections with other periods of history. This illumined Mesopotamia with more accessible analogies from history, and offered thought provoking insigbts into modern history.

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23 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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A mix of good narrative and bad history

The story follows a good narrative but is filled with lots of dubious analysis and comparison. Some of these are really poignant and meaningful while others are placed in an odd spot and bad history.

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19 people found this helpful

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Get it!

This book was a delight! We know so much more about Mesopotamians now than when I was a kid. The author does a beautiful job of painting a lively picture of the development of pottery and metallurgy, or the life of a scribe-in-training. I can’t help imagining the cross-dressing priests of Inanna as fabulous drag queens organizing neolithic farmers into the first urban civilization! Behind every bronze age king is a bureaucracy of drag queens dedicated to the goddess (LOL)! In many ways the Mesopotamians were far more cosmopolitan than we are.

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12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

An okay overview. Expect at least these two flaws:

•Doesn't address Christian-normative lens/assumptions.

•Prioritizes preserving a received conservative narrative over later discoveries, work, facts.

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7 people found this helpful

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Love this book

This was my first Audible book. I drive quite a lot for work and the stories in this book have made it SO much more enjoyable. I am not a professional historian, but found the material here to be always easily understandable and as has often the case, been strongly reminded that truth can be more entertaining than fiction. The narrator's clarity and emphasis in all the right places added rather than distracted to the material. Very well done!

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7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Why use 5 words when you can use 500?

After 5 agonizing hours of listening, I am throwing in the towel...which is not something I do. The narrator is actually amazing, the way he deftly navigates lengthy apositives and clauses in what must be some of the world's longest sentences ever. But, even with his outstanding narration, I simply can't listen to any more of this. The author is extremely verbose and overly descriptive at every turn. The work gives the impression that he is far less concerned with impressing upon you any part of the factual or archaelogically known history of Mesopotamia, but instead wants to impress you with his vocabulary and "gift of prose." He gives very little context to sources he quotes (as to veracity/scholarship), and often seems to be stating his own unsubstantiated opinion as fact. Moreover, he uses the Old Testament as "fact." I am actually a Christian who has read the Bible cover to cover twice, once for scholastic reasons, once for spiritual. I've studied theology as well as investigated the historical veractiy of the Bible. That said, surely in all the academic research and archaelogical finds related to this region, something other than scripture could be given. In one example, he drones on, citing a long passage about how to grow barley. It is uninteresting minutiae to elaborate one fact that could have been stated succinctly in 8 or 10 words. If you're looking for self-important, long-winded storytelling, you may like this book. If, as I am, you're looking for a telling of HISTORY - what we do/don't know - backed up by research and credible - and duly credited - scholarship, you may want to look elsewhere. That's what I will be doing.

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I learned about History

This book takes a very unique apporach to the field of archaeology and history. This isn't merely just a book on ancient Mesopotamia but more of an overall commentary on the progress and fall of civilizations over thousands of years. And what I learned is that some of the things that we largely see as results of modern civilization (free market economics, state planned economies, etc) were actually tried over periods of thousands of years in ancient Mesopotamia. It's almost like even in the earliest days of civilization we had many of the same profound issues that we are debating about today (plus a whole lot more that we don't have to even think about today thanks to technology and medicine). The narrator is alright if you're into narrators with concise Oxfordy sounding accents (I approve). Recommend read.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

Use for my class I Ancient Near and Greece, best short


History of the Ancient Mesopotamian world.

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4 people found this helpful