Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations

Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2013. 320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780871407160. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871407474. HIST
This collection comprises a decade's worth of Beard's (classics, Univ. of Cambridge; The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found) book reviews, mostly from the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books, plus one lecture not previously published. Owing to her characteristic friendly yet probing style, Beard is well known as a popularizer of classical studies. These reviews are ideal for providing a basic understanding of classical studies, as they not only pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the books she reviews but also elucidate the sometimes tricky nuances of current approaches in the field. Of course, much of the content is specific to the books being reviewed, but the work follows a chronological arrangement, with the first section on ancient Greece, the next on early Rome, the third on Imperial Rome, and so forth, with later pieces focusing on the classicists themselves across the subsequent centuries. Therefore the book lends itself well to reading straight through, rather than being read as a disjointed collection.
VERDICT Not to be missed by fans of Beard, this will also appeal to readers generally interested in classical studies. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]

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