Review by Choice Review
Although Speake's work aims to cover "Greece and the Greeks for 3500 years of their recorded history," its emphasis remains on the classical and Byzantine periods: almost three times as many articles treat individuals from the ancient and medieval periods as from the modern era. Speake, author of several other reference works on the Mediterranean world (A Dictionary of Ancient History, 1994), has collected almost 1,000 signed articles by more than 250 contributors in a handsome publication graced with 45 maps and numerous black-and-white photographs. Articles include bibliographies and tend to be more discursive than those in comparable reference works, such as Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (3rd ed., CH, May'97). A thematic list of entries and a detailed index aid users in identifying articles covering specific persons, time periods, regions, or topics. Libraries supporting research in modern Greek civilization will appreciate the coverage of topics such as "NATO" or "Nationalism." Others will want to consider the amount of duplication between this expensive set and previously published sources on classical Greece. B. Juhl University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
This set is "first and foremost a book about Greece," to quote from the editor's note. But perceptions of what is Greek vary from the world of the ancient gods and goddesses to the modern nation that was the birthplace of Aristotle Onassis. Added to the purview of this set is the Hellenic tradition that "is the cultural tradition in which all Greeks, all Greek-speaking people, participate," though restricted here to the Greeks themselves and not the influence of Hellenism globally. The 270 contributors have written articles on individuals ranging from Aesop to opera singer Maria Callas, on cities such as Constantinople and Nicaea, on the Trojan War and on World War II. As might be suspected with such a far-ranging list of topics in a two-volume set, most articles tend to be just a few pages, though the series of 10 articles (separately written) covering political history extends over 30 pages. Many entries are on places (such as Souli, a region in northwest Greece) or people (Thodoros Angelopoulos, a movie director) that the average U.S. reader may not have heard of. Other topics sound more like those in a general encyclopedia (Novel, Painting) but with a distinctly Greek bent. All articles end with bibliographies that are up to date and contain see also references when appropriate. Many of the articles conclude with a brief summary to help place the topic in context, though these would have been better placed at the beginning of the entries rather than at the end. The text is liberally sprinkled with black-and-white photographs (roughly 250) and 45 maps and site plans. Each volume begins with an alphabetical list of entries, a thematic list of entries, a chronological list of individuals covered, a list of Byzantine emperors, and a note on transliteration. (One error was spotted in relation to the latter point--artist Michael Damaskinos is identified as "Mikhail" in the entry Crete, though the former spelling is used in his main entry.) The set concludes with a very comprehensive index and notes on the contributors. The sheer scope of this work is a worthy endeavor given the expansiveness of Greek history, and the detail in some of the articles (such as Civil War 1945^-1949) is greater than will be found in a general encyclopedia. In other cases, a certain familiarity with the topic is expected of the reader, and background knowledge is assumed. Nowhere in the entry Sparta, for example, is there mention of traditional legislator Lycurgus (who is briefly mentioned in the entry Law), though the article is exemplary in its analysis of why the Spartan system ultimately failed. Readers expecting a regurgitation of the Greek myths will be disappointed; those interested in the place of Greece in the ancient, medieval, and modern world will find the work unique. Public and academic libraries serving a Greek population or with an interest in all facets of Greek and Eastern history will likely find this work to be a good value.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Recent political events have brought the Balkans to center stage, prompting many library users to seek the connection between current events and those going back to the Ottoman Empire and, indeed, beyond. This volume provides the needed continuity, encompassing 3500 years of the cultural history of Greece and the Greeks. Those searching for data about the Byzantine Empire are occasionally frustrated by the Western preoccupation with Rome in many sources covering this era, but this work is refreshing in its lack of emphasis on Rome as empire or church. On the subject of abortion, for example, the focus is on the viewpoints of the Church Fathers and Greek Orthodoxy rather than Western or Catholic doctrines. The essay on ethics summarizes the general schools of thought in the Ancient Greek world, but when discussing the neoplatonists, the encyclopedia focuses on Byzantine moral theology, mentioning Western figures and thought only as they relate to the Hellenic tradition. Modern topics, such as cinema and markets, also have entries. Speake (A Dictionary of Ancient History) has found contributors who are well-respected scholars: for instance, E.E. Rice, who writes the essay on Alexander the Great, did the same for the Oxford Classical Dictionary (1996). Each of over 1000 signed entries has a bibliography and, where appropriate, a summary. Volume 1 provides a thematic, a chronological, and, of course, an alphabetical index. This work fills a discomforting gap splendidly. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Clay Williams, Hunter Coll., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.