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The Making of the Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 November 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 672 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0199999783
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0199999781
  • Customer reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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"Best since Braudel."
--Tyler Cowen, The New York Times Magazine

"The Making of the Middle Sea offers an invaluable and beautifully illustrated resource, incomparable in its scope, depth and originality. Broodbank's narrative style is compelling and intelligent, making the book widely accessible, from undergraduate student to specialist, to anyone interested in
the Mediterranean over the five million years from the formation of the 'Middle Sea' to the dawn of the Classical worldEL. Broodbank's is the most remarkable achievement in Mediterranean history since Braudel published The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Like
Braudel, Broodbank treats prehistory as history and The Making of the Middle Sea is set to become the standard work in this field. Its Mediterranean-wide scope will transform the way scholars think about their specialisation."
--A. Bernard Knapp, History Today

"The Making of the Middle Sea is a massive, well-illustrated tome of interest to anyone who cares about where our world came from, and reads history for clues of where we might be headed."--David Luhrssen, Milwaukee Express

"An outstanding book: the best contribution to Mediterranean history in the sixty-plus years since Braudel's 'The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II.' I suspect that this is immediately going to become the standard work and will transform the way we think about the
prehistoric and ancient Mediterranean."
--Ian Morris, Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History, Stanford University, and author of Why the West Rules -- For Now

"Cyprian Broodbank gives us a masterly synthesis of the complex narratives of the deeper Mediterranean past based on a dazzling array of information from many disciplines. This is the Middle Sea brought alive through its people and its natural history, a brilliant 'longue durée' that shows us just
how much Greece, Rome and other later societies owed to earlier millennia. Beautifully written, up-to-date and elegantly argued, The Making of the Middle Sea is a superb exercise in multidisciplinary scholarship which amplifies and expands the classic histories of Fernand Braudel and others and will
stand proudly beside them."
--Brian Fagan, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology, University of California Santa Barbara, and author of The Attacking Ocean and Beyond the Blue Horizon

"'Only connect', urged E.M. Forster--he could have had Cyprian Broodbank's Mediterranean cultures specifically in mind, since connectivity is a key theme of this brilliant volume in which the Professor of Mediterranean Archaeology at UCL expertly tracks over the very long term the complex traits and
processes conducive to the emergence of a Mediterranean civilization."
--Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge, and author of After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars

"There has been no book remotely like this. No one before Cyprian Broodbank has set out to compose a comprehensive, systematic, up-to-date archaeological history of the entire Mediterranean basin to the dawn of the Classical world. The author pulls it off, creating a veritable 'tour de force.' The
book has a compelling, driving narrative and is a masterpiece of synthesis and compression. Without question, it will be seen immediately to be a landmark publication and will have a transformative impact on its field."
--John F. Cherry, Joukowsky Family Professor in Archaeology, Brown University, and co-editor of the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology

"'Never say that prehistory is not history.' This magisterial survey takes the great Fernand Braudel's advice to heart. It is an absorbing work of genuine history, profoundly learned yet wholly accessible, written with wit and elegance, and tellingly illustrated."
--Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Nicholas Purcell, University of Oxford, authors of The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History

"The extensive illustrations of this monumental study of the Mediterranean from earliest times through 500 BCE are well integrated with its user-friendly text. The supporting reference materials are much appreciated [...] Broodbank examines all sides of the Mediterranean and its islands throughout
the book." -C. King, emerita, Wright State University, CHOICE

"More comprehensive, more finely grained, more vivid, more subtle and more compelling than anything previously written on the period up to classical antiquity. [Broodbank's] hawk's-eye perspective combines vast vistas with sharply sighed details; he selects evidence with an unerring discretion and
words with daring élan. The vitality of his work carries the reader through 600 big, closely printed pages packed with data and bristling with intellectual challenges." --Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Literary Review

"This is one of the rare books -- I can think of no other -- in which the treatment of prehistoric times (lacking any access to ancient written sources) moves seamlessly into the historic period of the ancient world. It is to be applauded as a major work which sets new standards in scholarship,
coherence, and readability." --Times Literary Supplement

"This tour de force is astonishing for quite how much information [Broodbank] has read, digested, marshalled, and presented, and for its heady combination of being enlightening, entertaining, and constantly thought-provoking." --The Classical Review

"[A] long-needed grand narrative for the Mediterranean's coastlands and islands. Romping through the varied evidence for occupation before classical times, it reveals the sea itself to be the catalyst for creativity and connectivity." -- Times Higher Education

"It's a wonderfully sweeping and oddly unputdownable history of the region from the ice age to the Parthenon..." -- The Scotsman

"TheMiddle Sea is beautifully written--a massive study, impressive in its reach and learning, whose prose prose sparkles and draws even the casual reader into a fascinating world one might have though was irretrievably lost." --The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Cyprian Broodbank is John Disney Professor of Archaeology at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, and the author of An Island Archaeology of the Early Cyclades (winner of the 2002 AIA James R. Wiseman award).

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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
John Henry
5.0 out of 5 stars Some preliminary comments On the Middle Sea
5 June 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
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18 people found this helpful
Samuel Pfister
4.0 out of 5 stars this still stands as a beautiful read of a new take on the history of ...
22 August 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
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One person found this helpful
Edward C. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars In my opinion Chapter One badly needs editing. The ...
28 November 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
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4 people found this helpful
James B. Bleeker
5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Treasure
1 August 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Treasure
Reviewed in the United States on 1 August 2015
I will begin by saying that I enjoyed this book immensely, as much as David Anthony’s The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How the Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World and Jean Manco’s Ancestral Journeys. And while all of the 3 books offer detailed surveys, in addition Dr. Broodbank’s The Making of the Middle Sea offers a rich vocabulary and syntax, replete with modifiers – adjectives, adverbs, prepositional and infinitive phrases, subjunctive clauses, and appositives, that make his depictions of settings, cultures, transitions, and interactions a pleasure to read and often to savor, like a glass of Ipsus from Pantelleria. Also, the book offers a map at the beginning of each historical chapter locating nearly all of the sites discussed within the chapter (as well as a map at the beginning of the book identifying many of the important features of the Mediterranean basin), many pictures and graphics within each chapter exemplifying textual descriptions, and 49 photographs of important archaeological artifacts and sites on two sets of pages of plates.

Another strength, and possibly the book’s strongest feature, is the perspective that it offers. For the time period of each chapter, it discusses activities across the basin, the influences from outside the basin, and the interactions and networks within and beyond it. At least as importantly, it discusses the roles of climate in occasioning growth or conflict, depopulation and urban abandonments, the opportunities or stimulus in some regions imparted by the perturbations in another, and the contributions of scattered distributions of resources, advances in shipping transport, growth in population and pleasures of wine consumption in converting the Sea from barrier to medium of commerce and cultural convergence. Of particular note is Dr. Broodbank’s analysis and discussion of the likely origins of the paroxysms that afflicted the eastern Mediterranean circa 1200 BCE – a very compelling portrayal.

One shortcoming of the book is its glossy pages. These require the light source or book to be positioned in a manner that prevents glare.

Another possible shortcoming is the book’s heavy reliance on other books (in lieu of articles) as references, some priced in the high hundreds to low thousands of dollars (so only readable in the library of a more prominent university). Preferable, if possible, would be greater reliance on academic, peer-reviewed articles, often available at one or more sources (usually governmental or academic) at no cost to the reader (save the printing cost, if printed). Also, some journals publish cumulative surveys of articles, current knowledge and/or areas of research, in effect small detailed books heavy on analysis. Similarly detailed books heavy on analysis may be found as PhD theses at U.S. elitist universities.

One shortcoming is common to all great and lesser works: The relentless advance of human knowledge will render parts gibberish. On page 325, Dr. Broodbank writes, “Earlier archaeologists took the kinds of cultural changes we have witnessed in the northern Mediterranean, along with this fresh signature of long-distance associations across the subcontinent as a whole, as the combined markers of a massive westward thrust of Indo-European language speakers, often thought to originate north of the Black Sea. This has now been rejected on good archaeological grounds, at least beyond the Carpathian basin….” The June 2015 article in Nature entitled “Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe” suggests that this, at least in regard to central Europe, is rather on the side of bunk.

Finally, it is a pleasure to have finished this historical and literary treasure, as finishing it gives the opportunity to fill in detail with other fine books and articles (although I did use Wikipedia as a quick supplement while reading it). Nonetheless, I am certain that I will be returning to this work many times to refresh perspective. And I look forward to discussing it with a friend, after he finishes the last 100 pages.
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3 people found this helpful
Lily White
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
28 September 2016 - Published on Amazon.com
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