Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Help needed from big thinkers!

Can you suggest a good book or two?

Last year I assigned two "big picture" books for my Ancient Civilizations course (a second year course) and asked students to compare and contrast. Neither was really an "ancient history" book, but they were books that reflected on the wide sweep of human experience and discussed the significance of ancient developments in that perspective.

The two books were:
David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
and Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress.

I'd love to assign a similar paper for the upcoming year's Ancient Civilizations but I need one or two new books that make an interesting contrast and have something to do with ancient history (mainly the ancient Middle East and the Mediterranean).

You don't have to be an ancient historian or a historian of any sort to be helpful in this quest; you just have to have a good idea. Neither of my previous choices were typical historical works.

Any thought you put into this, and any suggestions you make, will be gratefully received.


Blogger Elio said...

How about Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory?

6:44 PM  
Blogger Ancarett said...

It's very problematic, but Jared Diamond's most recent book, "Collapse" draws a huge amount of interest and reaches back to ancient civilizations.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Colin Archbell said...

Jared's Guns Germs and Steel also deals with 'Big History' and won him the pullitzer prize.

Short History of Progress was a great read :)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Alun said...

I'm really enjoying Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes. It's a view of Bronze Age Greece and how it has been represented in history, archaeology and art. There's a diverse range of techniques, periods and ideas covered, so there should be something for most people in it.

Depending there's also Britain AD by Francis Pryor is an argument that Britain maintained its own identity through the various invasions of the Romans and Saxons. Britain BC is all prehistory, so it wouldn't compare so well.

2:18 PM  

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