Bruce Clark, "Athens: City of Wisdom" (Pegasus Books, 2022)


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In 510 BC, an obscure Greek city located literally on a backwater revolted against its tyrant. This was not extraordinary; such things happened regularly in the many Greek city-states. What followed however was extraordinary, and even world-changing. Athens became a democracy. Then just seventeen years after that, Athens and its tiny ally of Plataea defeated a raid by the mighty Persian Empire. The great century of Athenian glory had begun.Yet the history of Athens did not end with either Spartan victory in the Peloponnesian War, or with the supremacy of Macedon, or even with conquest by Rome.

While never quite attaining its heights under Pericles, Athens was often important; and even when it was relatively unimportant, it always remained interesting. The history of Athens, both during its decades of glory and its centuries of relative peace and quiet, is chronicled by Bruce Clark in his new book Athens: City of Wisdom. Clark is a writer for The Economist, where he covers European affairs and religion. He moves from Athenian origins, to Periclean Athens; from to the medieval city when the Parthenon was the castle of the Duke of Athens, to Ottoman conquest; to Greek independence, and Athens becoming the capital of a new Kingdom of Greece; and all the way into the 21st century.

For Further Investigation

Al Zambone is a historian and the host of the excellent podcast Historically Thinking. You can subscribe to Historically Thinking on Apple Podcasts.

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