Persians: The Age of the Great Kings

Basic: Perseus. Apr. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9781541600348. $35. HIST
From ancient Greek’s Herodotus to the mullahs of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, there have been a number of writers who had something to say about ancient Persia. Much has been lost over the centuries, and there is a long legacy of misinformation around ancient Persian empires, the lives of its leaders, and greater Persian society. However, by examining the artifacts and monuments that remain, historian Llewellyn-Jones (ancient history, Cardiff Univ.) brings forth a view of ancient Persia that is rich in tradition and historical significance. For instance, to counter the oft-cited works of Herodotus, which painted the Persian Empire and the leaders of the Achaemenid era as irrational and overcomplicated, Llewellyn-Jones demonstrates that key Persian figures like Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes were skilled warriors, shrewd politicians, and highly successful monarchs. Llewellyn-Jones commits this book to telling the history of Persia, and in doing so he also sheds light on Persian political structures, court etiquette practices, and royal family structure. The book includes a cast of characters as well as an extensive list of further reading.
VERDICT Recommended for readers with an interest in ancient Persian history and culture, Greek philosophy, and contemporary Iran.
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