The Life of Greece : The Story of Civilization

  • by Will Durant
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • Series: The Story of Civilization
  • 32 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The second volume of Will Durant's Pulitzer Prize - winning series The Story of Civilization. Volume 2 chronicles the history of ancient Greek civilization. Here Durant tells the whole story of Greece from the days of Crete's vast Aegean empire to the final extirpation of the last remnants of Greek liberty, crushed under the heel of an implacably forward-marching Rome. The dry minutiae of battles and sieges, of tortuous statecraft of tyrant and king, get minor emphasis in what is preeminently a vivid recreation of Greek culture, brought to the listener through the medium of supple, vigorous prose.
In this masterful work, listeners will learn about:

The siege of Troy
The great city-states of Athens and Sparta
The heroes of Homer's epics
The gods and lesser deities of Mount Olympus
The teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
The empire of Alexander the Great

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent introduction to Greek civilisation

Following on from volume 1 of the series where Durant gave an overview of the earliest days of mankind, here we finally makes it to the first "Great Civilisation" that we encounter in schools - ancient Greece. So why read this book and not the hundreds of others dedicated to the subject?

Continuing his systematic approach and endeavour to give everything its place in the world context, Durant sandwiches Greece between the Minoan period that preceded her rise and the emergence of Rome that led to her ultimate downfall.

His actual approach to Greece is a mixture of chronology and themes. So he starts with Homer's Greece and divides the period into arts, military conquests, mythology, politics, etc. Then he moves on to a later period and does the same thing again. The great benefit of this system, particularly for the audio format, is that if you space out and don't pay much attention at some point, that period will be re-visited later, albeit at a different angle.

Greece can be approached from many sides - philosophy, architecture, poetry - and this book is an excellent primer that provides solid foundations for whatever branch of ancient Greece a curious reader might want to pursue in the future. I had to study the Peloponnesian War at university, and it was nice to finally put that episode into the greater historic context. Having read four volumes of this series so far, I believe that Durant's greatest achievement is tying up together the myriad of narratives that a history buff will come across in their reading, but won't necessarily be able to piece together.

My only quibble with the text is that Durant sometimes goes into just a little too much detail. Perhaps it is his own preferences coming through (or my trauma of dealing with Thucydides), but I could have done with fewer names of various generals and minor military skirmishes. Durant's description of Hannibal in the next volume of the series is breathtaking, but some of the battles and politicians afforded space in this book, feel rather inconsequential to the greater picture.

I am assuming that the written version of this text is illustrated, and the audio format does suffer when Durant goes into abundant detail describing various columns and other technicalities of the Greek art world.

Stefan Rudnicki provides a great narration. His delivery is sharp and - as far as I could tell - he pronounces everything properly. His timing is impeccable - he doesn't rush, and gives enough time to absorb the flood of information, but neither does he drag his feet, which some narrators unfortunately do when presented with a "big narrative".

Overall, this is a commendable second installment in this wonderful series.
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- Anfisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 13-11-2013
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.