A lively and engaging narrative history showing the common threads in the cultures that gave birth to our own.
Bauer (author of the four-volume The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child) guides readers on a fast-paced yet thorough tour of the ancient worlds of Sumer, Egypt, India, China, Greece, Mesopotamia and Rome. Drawing on epics, legal texts, private letters and court histories, she introduces individuals who lived through the famines, plagues, floods, wars and empire building of the ancient world: the marvelous array of characters includes Gilgamesh, Sumer's first epic hero; Y , the founder of the Xia dynasty in China; and Tiglath-Pileser III, who restored the Assyrian empire's fortunes. Because Bauer covers so much time and territory, she focuses on the Western cultures with which she seems most comfortable; the chapters on Asia and India are the least developed. In addition, some of her assertions-for instance, that the biblical book of Joshua is the clearest guide we possess to the establishment of an Israelite kingdom in Canaan-contradict general scholarly opinion or are simply wrong. However, Bauer's elegant prose and her command of much of the material makes this a wonderful starting point for the study of the ancient world. 80 maps. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.