A History of Greece is the thrilling story of the rise to power and influence of the greatest civilization the world has ever known. As Cyril Robinson's exquisite narrative unfolds, we find ourselves plunged into mankind's greatest and most magnificent adventure. The story begins in Minoan Crete, but quickly shifts to a dimly understood mainland culture. We follow the heroic deeds of the Mycenians and the Trojan War, the glorious artistic and intellectual triumphs of the Ionians, the turmoil of the Doric invasion and resultant dark age, the slow recovery culminating in the epic Persian wars and the renewed splendor of Periclean Athens. In the fifth century B.C., philosophy, literature, art, and architecture reach a pinnacle in Athens which no civilization has ever equaled. But civil strife soon follows and eventually embroils all of Greece.
This is Volume 1 of A History of Greece. Don't miss Volume 2.
To get the most of this book, you need to have a good map of Ancient Greece and the territory surrounding the Aegean Sea. Keep it handy. Also, it will be helpful to understand what the Isthmus and Acropolis are, look them up before hand.
The narrator was the same as in the book "Hannibal, One Man Against Rome" and he was so good I followed him to this book. I was NOT disappointed. The book started out slow and it wasn't until chapter 5 that I really took interest. It was amazing that, despite all the wars that were fought between their city-states like Athens and Sparta, Greece gave rise to experiments in democracy and serious philosophical and scientific inquiry.
The level of detail in this book can make it hard on the history novice. Despite that, someone new to Greek history can gain a lot by reading this book.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
I always knew that Greece was important to western civilization. Now I have a greater idea why. Practically every strongpoint and every weakpoint of democracy was confronted and worked out in Greece. Listening to the two volumes of this wonderful reading by Charlton Griffin, by the way, I can see how a civilization's success, greater success and finally a pinacle is followed by decline, mainly caused by refusal of its citizens to be responsible to their own country.
As an aside, I found an interesting viewpoint on Socrates--He really did corrupt the youth of Athens. While Socrates is my hero in all of ancient history (he is still entirely accessible, by the way), Athens was on a downslide morally and politically during Socrates'lifetime. Socrates proved the Gods were wrong or didn't exist, and that most people didn't know what they were talking about, anyway, about virtue and ethics.
Well Socrates was a very ethical man, but those who listened to him, the younger generation, were not. So Socrates in effect gave them a license for personal corruption and irresponsibility which furthered the decline of Greece.
Greece was important in the Middle East, Rome, the Italian Rennaisance, the United States (our Founding Fathers like Hamilton, Jefferson and John Adams).
I never want to forget to acknowledge another great reading by Charlton Griffin. He does carry along many history books I would not have cared enough to listen to, but I can always take on faith I would like a reading by Mr. Griffin.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this. The narration is good and the writing, the language itself, is beautiful. You do have to pay attention if you want to be able to follow it- it's not something you can have on in the background while you drive or do other things. Not something I'd recommend to the casual listener, but if you are interested in history- not just 'story'- I recommend giving it a try.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
It is nearly impossible to make it through the American educational system without learning the significance of ancient Greece to western culture, but Cyril Robinson brings this story to life through the (pompous and sometimes overly dramatic) portrayal of Greek history. Nevertheless, Robinson has a talent for placing the ?reader? behind the eyes of those who witnessed the rise of democracy, the mastery of trade in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, the generation-by-generation refinement of art to its simplest and barest essence, the intransigence of the Greek city states, the elation of the conquerors and the horror of the conquered. As the book progresses, you begin to see that our present way of life has been so polarized by the ancient Greeks that we must ask if it is possible for the modern mind to imagine a different way of life. Indeed, our civilization is still wrestling with many of the same dilemmas that ultimately lead to the demise of this remarkable group of people. In summary, Robinson?s book offers not only a clearer appreciation of the contributions of the ancient Greeks to our culture, but a specific recognition of where they went wrong.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
After thoroughly enjoying a History of Rome, I couldn't wait to get to what I think now is Cyril Robinson's equally impressive work on Greece. I love the prose, but it may not be done justice better than anyone but Charlton Griffin. He is narration is crisp, like he memorized the whole book and is reading it as a soliloquy. It wasn't dry to me in any way. If you listen you will find an epic history of a fascintating people who still have a great influence on us today.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I thought the book was excellent. I would have given it 4.5 if possible. I reserve 5 stars for something really spectacular but I cannot think of anything negative to say about this book. This book fulfilled my expecations precisely. It was well organized and well-read. If your are looking for an overview for Greek history, covering policial, social, religious and military aspects, this is perfect. I will certainly listen to volume 2 and then I will move on to the auhor's History of Rome books.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I liked the style of this narrator. Combined with skillful writing, this book is easy to listen to. The English accent is not as strong as in some other audio history books. It is very detail, not at all just an overview, so if a short history is what you are looking for, this book is not for you. If you are seeking greater insight into the history of Greece, I would definitely recommend this book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Because my initial impression was at odds with the reviews of others, I listened to this book a second time. The redux did not alter my initial assessment that the author failed to establish a meaningful vantage point from which to recount early Greek history. Except for the details of the many wars and skirmishes, there is little here to differentiate Greek civilization from any other Mediterranean society prior to 350 BC. The forces that led to the Greek?s extraordinary achievements in philosophy, science, art, architecture and politics remain as obscure as when I began. Undoubtedly, Griffin?s pleasant, intelligent and empathetic voice is the strength of this selection.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
My biggest complaint is that the book read more like a "college textbook" stating brief facts and stories, rather than a story of which I became a part of.
Too many interesting topics, people, and stories received barely a passing mention. Too many references to a person or story as being "well known" were made. I would have preferred a much deeper delving into fewer topics.
Also worth mentioning is that I thought the narrator read too fast (making it difficult to keep the ancient names and places straight) and that he read as if though to a British audience (making analogies to British government or history).
In all, if you are a history novice (like me) I would not recommend this book as a starting point.
11 of 18 people found this review helpful
I love Charlton Griffin. Great reader. As for the book, it is solid. For some reason, however, the book is played back to back. It starts over at chapter 16 (or around there). I found it to be entertaining from start to finish. Much more difficult read than something like The Great Courses. Reminds me of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples in many aspects., which would have been written around the same time period. It probably helps that the author often makes comparisons between ancient Greece and England. That said, I don't feel like I am being lectured, I feel like I am listening to a story. Love it. Some of the information contained within may not have survived the test of time, but in my opinion the book deserves credit for covering such an immense period of time with so many documented events within a reasonably sized book. It covers Greece from prehistoric times to the end of the Peloponnesian war. It focuses mostly on Athens and Sparta, and dedicates a healthy amount of time to exploring the founders and reformers of the Athenian Democracy. The author cites the usual sources - Herodotus, Plutarch, Thucydides - and spends some time discussing Homer's work. I would recommend this book to anyone with a strong interest in history who is looking for a somewhat condensed version of the early history of Greece. It is a great starting point.
This is a rather old fashioned account of Greek history, written before WWII, but it is a good listen anyway.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful