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History in Review

The Mediterranean in History

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The Mediterranean in History
Edited by David Abulafia. (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles: 2003. Pgs. 320. 300 Illustrations, Maps.) ISBN: 0-89236-725-3.

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 9, 2003

The history of the Mediterranean is more than just a history about a sea. It is also the history of the peoples that lived along the periphery of the waters edges, and those that plied its waves. The Mediterranean in History, edited by David Abulafia is a thrilling book about the Great Sea, and the impact that it had upon the development of Western Civilization. The text discusses the Sea from its days as a trading and exploratory highway for the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and the Etruscans, to the role it has played in modern day political and economic endeavors of the countries bordering the Great Sea.

The text is divided into nine thematic sections. The first section, The Physical Setting, by Oliver Rackham, details the geographical landscape of the Mediterranean region, as well as the region's climate, topography, geological hazards, vegetation, flora and fauna. Basically, this chapter provides a comprehensive, and thorough overview of what makes the Mediterranean the Mediterranean. The remaining eight sections are organized chronologically and thematically. These remaining eight sections are: In all, this text covers over four thousand years of history. The authors who have contributed to this anthology are all renowned scholars in the field of Mediterranean history, and their narratives are as engaging as they are informative. Additionally, this text is lavishly illustrated with maps, paintings, mosaics, manuscripts, photographs and other artifacts that serve to enliven the text.

The information presented in this text will enthrall general readers as well as historians. The text is authoritative, yet easily accessible to non-scholars. Reading this text will provide you with a general overview of the history of Mediterranean Region. More importantly, it will provide you with the necessary background information to gain an understanding of the intricate interactions between the various peoples and cultures that developed around the Mediterranean sea. This information will also allow you to understand how the political, religious, and cultural institutions in the region developed. In addition, it shows how the geographical aspects of the region influence these developments.

The Mediterranean in history will serve the general reader, as well as both high school and college students, with a solid foundation upon which to continue their study of the region and its peoples. A concise Further Reading section can be found at the end of the book, this list is an ideal place to start for those seeking additional reading material on this subject.

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