TITLE: It’s All Greek To Me
AUTHOR: Charlotte Higgins
PUBLISHER: Short Books
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2008
NUMBER OF PAGES: 254 including extras, 192 otherwise
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from college library
With everything from Achilles’ heel to Pythagoras’ theorem; from Oedipus and his complex to Margaret Thatcher and Thucydides, this book aims to unlock the richness of the Greek world and show just how profoundly it has informed our own. – From reverse of book
Since a young age, I’ve had an interest in the Ancient Greeks (specifically their myths and gods). Last year, I started taking Classical Civilisations, and it satisfied most of my Grecian knowledge… but when I saw this book in the college library, well, I just had to get it out.
This book is told in 9 different chapters, and has around 40 pages of glossaries, Who’s Whos, quotes, where the Greek is in your English, maps and a timeline at the end. Each of the chapters almost feels like its own separate book, and in a sense they are – this book is designed to give you the biggest view of the Ancient Greeks and how they influenced our world. Whilst a lot of people on GoodReads – who, I imagine, quite a lot are scholars – didn’t like this, I actually preferred this. I know a lot of history of Ancient Greece and Rome, but not much about its people, philosophies and I haven’t read many, if any, Greek plays. I enjoyed reading about Sappho, who I didn’t know anything about beforehand aside from her gender, and Socrates’ legacy, and then less about the politics of Ancient Greece, but it was still interesting.
Humour is scattered across the book, too, which gives a breath of fresh air to the otherwise rather-heavy writing (subject wise, it’s not actually as bad as some other scholarly stuff I have to read). However, I definitely liked this as I recently returned another non-fiction book, which the subject matter I really enjoyed, because I just couldn’t force myself to read it.
Overall, I definitely learned a lot from this book, and I would recommend it for someone with a light interest in the Ancient Greeks, philosophy and it’s aimed at young adults, I reckon. I gave it 4/5 stars – the 5 only because some of it I already knew, which, to be honest, isn’t the author’s fault but I felt like some of it was quite elementary (my dear Watson). I might even buy a copy of this at some point in the future, as it’s one of those books you’d want to go back to. I would definitely recommend this book! (I actually whacked my friend with it after I’d finished it with a stern, “Read this!”)
(Also, isn’t the title great?)