`A brief History of Ancient Greece` may well stand as the ultimate starting point for students of ancient history as well as for anyone interested in such area.
Now in its second edition, the textbook encompasses pretty much all main periods of ancient Greece, ranging from the very first settlements in the Greek peninsula to the decline of the Hellenistic period after the campaign of Alexander the Greek. In this respect, the four eminent professors, who have combined their efforts to compile the book, offer a peculiar approach to the understanding of the Greek world including archaeological findings, social history, anthropology and even geographical data. Although the book is a shorter version of `History of Ancient Greece` by the same authors, all themes developed in the book are thoroughly analysed and properly backed up with archaeological evidence, and, at the same time, they are written in a such a concise and accessible way that just renders the book appealing even for those who are new to the Greek world - or to historical studies altogether.
I personally bought this book because it was one of the set books recommended by an Open University undergraduate course I was studying. Nevertheless, given the ample scope of themes treated in the book, students attending similar courses might well want to have a look into this excellent volume to gain deeper knowledge of historical facts and events. However, notwithstanding the high level of details and richness of contents, I must point out that the volume in question is still a shorter version of the main work by the four authors, and, as a result of that, anyone interested in specific themes might be better off with the longer edition. For instance, in the first two chapters of the book, the authors analyse the 8th century period of ancient Greece that we have come to know as the Greek `Dark Age`, and in doing so they focus on the main institutions of the era, the primary ancient sources ( including Homer and Hesiod) and the key figures of the proto-kingdoms of Greece. Conversely, in later section of the book, the very attention to details given to primary sources is not the same as the one provided in the first chapters of the book. In particular, when studying the Peloponnesian War and the war against Persia, I could not help noticing that the same level of detail given to primary ancient sources did not quite match the one in previous chapters. A striking example of this is the rather scant section dedicated to Aeschylus` Persians, obviously regarded as one of the most influential and reliable ancient sources for the study of the socio-political background and the ethnical divisions in 5th century BC Athens. However, I beg the reader not to consider this personal remark as a critique to the book, for the volume is extremely accurate and reliable. The book must thus be appreciated in terms of the richness of details that a standard companion book might offer, and under such standpoint a `Brief History of Ancient Greece` may well have set the bar quite high for other shorter versions to reach.