After reading Bettany Hughes’ meandering and detailed book on Helen of Troy, this promised to be a little more direct. Subtitled A New History, my expectations were a book with a strong narrative backed up with more recent archaeological evidence. Unfortunately it didn’t quite gel like that. The narrative portions essentially feel like an inferior re-write of Homer; and the archaeology is patchy. I understand that our evidence can be slight, but Strauss does not do as good a job as Hughes at stretching that out and forming it into a coherent book.
On the plus side, there is good context setting with the portrayal of the war as a sideline to the great civilisations of the Hittites, Assyrians and Egyptians. But this isn’t a book on the Hittites. It doesn’t provide a tight focus on Bronze age warfare. It isn’t quite a book on Greek society. It dabbles in many topics but none of them really satisfy. Strauss touches on a lot, but this lacks the depth and detail of Bettany Hughes’ work.