Despite the Gibbonesque title, this is a not traditional history of classical Greece. It aspires to be more data driven, though spiced with classical learning. Sort of like a Jared Diamond who didn’t reach for tendentious assumptions with uncomfortable racial overtones.

An early example was identifying that, even though ‘Greece’ expanded to many places in the Mediterranean beyond Greece, the distinctly Greek city states (did you know that plural of polis is poleis, because I didn’t) were located in a narrow climate band that featured relatively mild winters and not too much rainfall. While the first seems natural, the latter is counterintuitive, but it seems the liked dry summers, despite the potential benefits to agriculture.

So, I was enjoying this right?

Well, kind of. I actually didn’t finish it. I don’t have limitless reading time and, frankly, I decided to allocate it elsewhere after getting about 100 pages into it. I prefer cultural history to economic history. If I read about classical Greece, I want more Empedocles and Pericles and less olive oil output. Just a personal preference, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think this book is worth your time, though, should you be so inclined.