• Ancient Greece, Second Edition

  • From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times
  • By: Thomas R. Martin
  • Narrated by: John Lescault
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (595 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this compact yet comprehensive history of ancient Greece, Thomas R. Martin brings alive Greek civilization from its Stone Age roots to the fourth century BC. Focusing on the development of the Greek city-state and the society, culture, and architecture of Athens in its Golden Age, Martin integrates political, military, social, and cultural history in a book that will appeal to students and general audiences alike.

Now in its second edition, this classic work now features updates throughout.

©2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about Ancient Greece, Second Edition

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Just the way I like it!

I listened to this mostly while traveling in Greece, and it was a wonderful companion as I was visiting sites and museums. It is very clear, direct, and informational. I prefer an efficient narrative and this spoke to me.

10 people found this helpful

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I’m a history fan and this was informative but a snoozer..

I got this because I’m a huge fan of Greek myths and am headed to Greece next month. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fascinating material here (Alcibiades, Socrates, Sparta, Perecles) but there’s also plenty of general anthropological fat as well that dulls the taste for the rest. It takes a lot to bore me with history but this book occasionally fails to illuminate things that I found interesting and made me feel like a bored teenager being forced to sit through History Class - and I thought I’d outgrown that!! Furthermore the reader’s performance, though measured and lucid, had, by design, matched the sterility and blandness of the academic prose. I found myself tuning out for long sections and not feeling compelled to go back and get caught up - this is from a guy who didn’t want to miss a single moment of that great Frederick Douglass biography Prophet of Freedom and that book was LOOOONG. I wasn’t a huge fan of that reader either, but that had some poetry to it and at transported the listener. I struggled with this one.

7 people found this helpful

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Well-written, poor reading/editing performance

The content is straightforward, and about what you'll expect. A narrative about how things were in Ancient Greece, mostly from a political perspective (rulers, government, relevant geography, wars, etc.), but with some information about social life.

What distracts from this is the poor production quality. First, the reading sounds heavily spliced, and so the tone and volume can change mid-sentence, which is distracting. The sound engineers and director didn't do enough to ensure consistency in the result. Also, no one proof-listened to this, as at least twice I noticed a phrase, or an entire passage, was repeated (different takes of each). I have to wonder if anything was skipped, or out-of-order.

Not only that, the narrator himself seems uninterested in the text. He sometimes puts emphasis on the wrong word in a sentence given the context, indicating he's not paying attention to what he's reading. He speaks haltingly and without proper phrasing. Sometimes there's a participial or prepositional phrase at the start of a sentence, and he reads it as if the sentence ended with the phrase. Or vice-versa; making the end of a sentence sound like a phrase connected to the next one. All this makes the text hard to follow at times. And there were a few words that he didn't pronounce clearly enough, and even as I listened several times, I never could figure out what it was, even in context!

7 people found this helpful

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Greek geeks

The history of the Greeks always feels like the history of the literate world, doesn't it?

2 people found this helpful

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Good easy listenimg

A good book for listening at low volume, a good put to relax to whole trying to good to sleep. the topuc was broad enough and the narrator voice was perfect.

2 people found this helpful

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snore

The narration and context remind me of stereo instructions. Not at all what I expected.

2 people found this helpful

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Highly disappointing

This book reads like an entry-level college textbook. Why are we given the background information on southeastern Europe as early as 10000 BCE and why is the region still referred to as Greece in the book when at that point there weren’t any Greeks even in existence anywhere?

Despite the 2013 publication date, Martin argues for an Anatolian Indo-European homeland, a minority view in 2013, and then remarkably doesn’t defend his position or explain archaeologists who reject the outdated Anatolian hypothesis, such as David Anthony, who published his groundbreaking work way back in 2007, 6 years before this book (Go read that instead).

The final nail in the coffin is the author’s anachronistic criticism of Athens, in the very first chapter, of not including women in the class of voting citizens in c. 450 BCE. I’ve never heard that one before!

Reading is pretty good despite some mismatched editing, I would have given up trying to read this after the first few chapters so I commend the Audible reader, Lescault, on endurance more than anything.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Introductory Work

Just finished listening to this one! This was my first audiobook, so I did not know what to expect, and I also didn’t have other (more smoothly-narrated) books to compare it to.
I really enjoyed this work! As other reviewers have mentioned, it is read in a rather dry way (like a textbook), which may take many listeners time to get used to. I listened to it at around 1.2x or 1.4x speed, which made it easier for me to follow.

Content-wise, this is a really interesting & responsibly-researched piece. It follows the history of ancient Greece chronologically, and flows from different topics within that, from art to political events to cultural and economic norms. The author acknowledges the limits of his work (a very academically responsible thing to do), and encourages readers to examine the primary sources to learn more on their own.

One thing I did not expect, but very much appreciated, was the author’s intentionality to discuss women’s experiences & include the contributions of female poets, playwrights, and philosophers throughout the book. It was not handled in an overtly-feminist way, but with the same respect with which the male historical figures are discussed, as well as with awareness of the cultural context in which these women lived. Since the contributions of women are often overlooked by historians, or treated as a “special” thing, this was a very pleasant & subtle detail that I personally rather liked.

1 person found this helpful

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Greek History

Good voice,easy to follow. Loved it.
Learn many things I didn't know before now.

1 person found this helpful

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How do you make Greek history this boring?

I have a degree in Ancient History and Religion, I took Greek in college. But, it's been 20 years so I thought a refresher would be nice. I got through the Mycenean era and had to stop. I love this stuff, but I have never seen someone take all the joy out of a story the way this book does. Clinical, tedious, and utterly boring.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Nik Jewell
  • Nik Jewell
  • 04-26-18

Superb Survey

A very good survey of the history of Ancient Greece. Organised chronologically it covers all the usual events in Greek history and does not stint in charting cultural achievements.

Whilst you obviously cannot expect great depth in a short book on a vast subject it manages to present a fair amount of detail whilst still remaining very readable/listenable.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-26-20

Good overall review of Ancient Greece

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The material was engaging enough that the reader's somewhat unenthusiastic (but very clear and we'll spoken) tone didn't make much difference to me.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Joe C.
  • 10-10-21

Perfect introduction

This is a perfect introduction to what is such a dauntingly huge area. It is full of fascinating information while maintaining a really strong narrative line. It gives one the courage to go to the sorce works with some confidence, which is exactly what i was hoping for.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • John R.
  • 01-28-21

Avoid.

I didn't think that it could be possible to make Greek History boring but this author manages it. All of the greatness of Greece is ignored so the author can waffle on endlessly about gender studies and how unwoke the Greeks were. And the audio book is narrated by someone who speaks like a robot and cannot pronounce any of the Greek names. Waste of money.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. O. A. Scott
  • 06-13-18

amazing overview, average execution

I found the narration to be choppy and uninspired, but the content was of such high quality that after a while I got used to it and an now SO much better informed on Greek history. A great place to start for anyone wanting to prop up their ancient Greek knowledge

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • luke pritchett
  • 02-04-20

Brilliant book read by a sleepy robot

This is a fantastic brief overview of Ancient Greece. I wasn’t sure unfortunately if the narrator was actually human or a computer program.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David_Cockayne
  • 05-07-22

Best single volume work on Ancient Greece

This is an outstanding work given that it covers the period from the Stone Age to the post-Alexander Hellenistic empires. It fulfils the golden rule of writing which is to be both intelligible and interesting. In 30 years of studying, or at least being fascinated by, ancient Greece, this is the best single volume work I have read (or listened to).

I was particularly intrigued by the commenter who claimed the work was an example of woke gender studies; it is nothing of the sort. It may come as a shock to some that there actually were women in ancient Greece and that their lives were somewhat different to those of men. If one wishes to understand history these things are worth knowing. But the author does not moralise about their lower status; nor does he fulminate against slavery. He merely presents us with the facts and allows us to make our own conclusions; as any good historian should.

The author clearly loves his subject and considers that the democracy of Athens is its greatest achievement and the modern world's great blessing. This is the exact opposite of what a woke history would conclude. (I shudder to think of such a thing.)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave A
  • 09-28-21

Excellent

Comprehensive in scope yet concise in detail with some very proper introductory remarks about the consideration of historical context and treatment of primary and secondary sources to which the author adhered throughout.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr Hoaxstein
  • 02-14-20

The best introduction to Ancient Greece

This is the best introduction to Ancient Greece. It is comprehensive (for an introductory work) and exceptionally well structured.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Keith
  • 03-15-19

Classic

Quite an excellent survey of the period, comprehensive even has it moves across multiple aspects of Greek and wider Hellenistic history. Particularly enjoyed social and cultural history sections.

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  • K-2
  • 06-14-22

Excellent introduction

This book is an excellent introduction to Greek thought and history from the archaic to the Hellenistic era. Truly fascinating, however the narrator can be felt monotonous at times, so it is worth to be aware of that.