Does what it says on the cover! 4/5 stars.
The blurb: The Ancient Greeks gave us our alphabet and much of our scientific, medical and cultural language; they invented democracy, atomic theory and the rules of logic and geometry; established artistic and architectural canons visible to this day on all our high streets; laid the foundations of philosophy, history, tragedy and comedy and debated everything from the good life and the role of women, to making sense of foreigners and the best form of government, all in the most sophisticated terms.
In Eureka! Peter Jones, author of Veni, Vedi, Vici, tackles the gamut of Ancient Greece from the Trojan War to the advent of the Romans. Along the way he introduces the major figures of the age, including Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Euclid and Archimedes. Exploring Greek myths he provides a glimpse of everyday life in ancient times and shows us the very foundations of Western culture.
This post may be more about me and my relationship with non-fiction than this specific book and for that I can only apologise.
I try to read at least 2 non-fiction books a year. I’m aware that 2 is a low number, but I tend to struggle with non-fiction. I find my attention wanders, mostly because I read far slower than I read fiction.
Firstly, all credit for me having found and read this book must go to my local library. Their display stands of interesting non-fiction books are the main reason I ever pick up non-fiction.
In a nutshell, my review of Eureka! would be: if you have any interest in knowing about the Ancient Greeks, and would like the information in an easy-to-digest format, then I can’t recommend this book enough.
I liked how every chapter was split into small chunks of information (see photo below). It meant my attention didn’t wander because I could see it wouldn’t be long until the next topic heading where I could always take a break.
There were lots of highlights, and I particularly enjoyed the parts about Troy and Greek myths and legends. However, I think my favourite comment was about Aristotle being hired by Alexander the Great’s father to tutor his son. The author points out that this was the equivalent of an ambitious father wanting a maths teacher for his son and accidentally hiring Stephen Hawking!
Also, the book made me appreciate how much we still owe to the Greeks in all sort of fields: astronomy, mathematics, biology, physics… In fact, apart from technological advances, there doesn’t seem to be much today that the Greeks hadn’t already figured out thousands of years ago. I’m still not sure if that’s amazing or depressing… or both!
The only thing that makes me sad is that with my addled baby brain I doubt I’ll be able to retain much of what I’ve read. The author’s similar book about the Romans is already on my TBR list and I’m trusting my local library to come up trumps again.
Overall: an accessible read full of fascinating facts. I just wish I could retain more of them!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul