The Histories: The Landmark Herodotus - Herodotus, Andrea L. Purvis, Rosalind Thomas, Robert B. Strassler As I neared The Histories on the Great Books of Western Civilization list, I don't think it's an understatement to say I felt a bit of dread. I couldn't help but think that this may very well end my nascent attempt at joining the ranks of the literati. As I paged through various editions, it became clear that the names of politicians, cities, tribes and measurements were a dense collection of proper nouns that left me with only improper thoughts about what I wanted to do to this book. I knew I'd be reading this book just to say I read it. My eyes would gloss over the pages as I skimmed through it, then I'd check the book off my list and be several hundred pages closer to claiming I've read the Western canon of Great Books and therefore be smart.

Then, thankfully, I stumbled across The Landmark Thucydides at a bookstore which then lead me The Landmark Herodotus.

Ten years in the making, The Landmark Herodotus is filled with referential materials that not only makes this book digestable, but a pleasure to read. Maps are supplied every few pages to help locate almost every location, city and tribe mentioned. The fact that the maps in the chapters are found every few pages spares the reader from flipping all the way back to the front or back of the book to seek out locations simply mentioned in passing. Though it may seem trivial, I know if the maps were not so readily accessible, I would have eventually lost patience in using them. Additionally, they are well crafted and researched.

Of course, there are footnotes. And ample footnotes. Again, something some may consider a minor distinction, but the use of footnotes instead of endnotes allow the reader to continue through the book with minimal interruption.

There are also 21 appendices that provide excellent summaries of more specific aspects of Greek, Persian and Egyptian culture. I found them to be incredibly helpful in augmenting my understanding of this work. Furthermore, since Herodotus is concurrently monikered "The Father of History" and "The Father of Lies", the supporting materials help the uninformed reader (AKA "Me") distinguish between biased exaggerations and fact.

I really can't heap enough praise on the editors of this book for their efforts in making it an accessible read for those not getting a PhD in ancient Greek culture. The editing is really what made this book a fantastic read for me. It allows you to follow Herodotus as he meanders through Greek history.

The only reason I don't give the book 5 stars is simply because it's Herodotus. It's a fantastic book in its own right for being one of the first attempts at objective history. But, again, it's Herodotus. I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone that says that they loved Herodotus' writing style. And given the content, even with the extensive reference materials, it is sometimes hard to follow the chain of names Herodotus lists with little elaboration.

Since it's the original source material for much about what we know about Greek culture, it's definitely required reading for anyone interested in ancient Greek history. And now, with this edition, most of us can understand it.