Review: “The Histories” by Herodotus

For the love of books

Herodotus was one of the most speculative men of the fifth century B.C.  Little is known about his personal history, but his surviving work, The Histories, is a phenomenal, albeit controversial, anthology of history and geography in one volume, which is comprised of nine books.

The author has selected notable customs, detailed geographical descriptions, and historical events from civilizations within Asia Minor and Ancient Greece.  The narrative spans over several centuries and explains the roots of prominent empires, such as the Persian Empire built by Cyrus the Great, and theBabylonian Empire overthrown by him.  Herodotus devotes an entire book to the history and customs ofAncient Egypt, focusing on the patterns of the Nile River and the debated location of its mouth.  After closely examining Greece and Asia Minor, Herodotus leads to the infamous conflicts between Greece and Persia ignited by King Darius I, a descendant of Cyrus the Great.  The descriptions of the battles of Marathon, Thermopylai, Salamis, Plataia, and Mycale are the only complete accounts that have survived.

The Histories is essentially the first history book ever written in the style of a travel journal.  Herodotus’ analyses and opinions are straightforward.  In addition, the charismatic historian inserts humorous anecdotes and stories that entertain and educate the reader simultaneously.

Original review: The creator of the first history book and travel guide, Examiner.com

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