The Hellenistic Age
The genre of brief history is hard to get right. The goal is to provide a focused distillation of salient points and give a general overview of the terrain. Peter Green’s account of the classical world from Alexander to Augustus – 336 to 30 BCE – gets it half right. On main currents in cultural and political life he is astute and observant, especially when outlining the shift from public-spiritedness to a new emphasis on private life. But the presentation too often gets bogged down in tedious, mostly inconsequential, and finally incomprehensible dynastic squabbles that would be difficult to fully comprehend even in a volume much longer than this. Still less would have been more.