Review of the Week: 4/10/17

The history of Syria is covered in this week's Review of the Week.

Ancient Syria : a three thousand year history

Bryce, Trevor. Oxford, 2014
379p bibl index, 9780199646678 $50.00

Bryce (Univ. of Queensland, Australia) adds a focused, thoroughly researched, and eminently readable work to the body of historical scholarship on the ancient Near East. His expertise shines in a substantial section on the Bronze Age, a welcome foundation for the narrative of the historical period that follows. The author utilizes the full panoply of archaeological and literary sources, from a stunning multitude of languages and cultures. Bryce’s narrative is that rarest of forms, a style both scholarly and approachable, enhanced by a sprinkling of illustrative plates and maps. Although the scope is broad and the pace breathtaking, Bryce slows occasionally to focus on more details, as in the last section on Palmyra and Queen Zenobia. Syria is the work’s unifying theme, and a careful balance among the region’s many ruling peoples, both indigenous and imperial, allows the land to remain the chief character in the account. Bryce’s superb work reminds his readers that Syria’s exciting and fascinating story stretches back long before today’s headlines.

Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.
Reviewer: J. Tucci, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Classical Studies , Middle Eastern Studies
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – Middle East & North Africa
Choice Issue: Nov 2014