on February 27, 2004
This book is an excellent addition to any library dealing with the civilizations of the Mediterranean, a chance to see what musty texts only describe. In a way that an academic text can't, this book brings back alive ancient Greece, Persia and Phoenicia, among many others. It's difficult to describe just how good the photography is in this book. There are hundreds of photographs here, all in color, many large, filling half-pages and whole pages, and the photography is so vivid you actually feel like you're standing before the ancient monuments and architecture, simply by turning the pages. That is a feeling that is rare in even the best photography books and it alone is worth buying this book.
Now for the text! As one reviewer mentioned, there probably was some political bias included in the selection of sights to be photographed for the book, often backed up by the remarks in the text. On the other hand, there are many other books that deal with those sites of Israel, while the cultures of Phoenicia and the others have long gone neglected. If you have any interest in these ancient cultures at all, you'll love this book. It's the next best thing to being there if you can't afford the plane fare.
on November 12, 2002
First the good news: This book's production values are high, its photos are interesting and its text offers some interesting commentary on many obscure political entities which non-specialists rarely encounter in popular surveys of Levantine archaeology... Alas, something very odd is also afoot here: There is virtually no mention of the ancient - and obviously pivotal - kingdoms of Israel, Judea and Samaria... or the fascinating presence of Jewish communities in the late Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods which followed. This is like writing a survey of Mesoamerica up through the first centuries following the Spanish conquest - and willfully ignoring the very existence of, say, the Olmec. It produces a totally fractured and falsified pseudo-historical impression in the minds of unsophisticated readers, and it throws the entire work onto the heap of propaganda, rather than admitting it into the library of Science. The authors' affiliations with several so-called "universities" in Egypt and Lebanon suggests the reason why modern conflicts and the continuing Arab rejection of their Israeli neighbor seem to have trickled down into the historical realm, but such falsification is still disreputable and unworthy of either the authors or the EU publisher. Shame! Shame!