Book Review: The Trojan War


by Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. Pp. xii, 210. Illus., maps., append., notes, biblio., index. $16.95 paper. ISBN: 0806138742

A fresh look at an eternally fascinating subject.

Standing on the cusp between myth, legend, and history, the Trojan War continues to attract attention.  In this work, Thomas and Conant, who previously wrote  Citadel to City-State: The Transformation of Greece, 1200-700 B.C.E., review the current state of the evidence on this major event in the formation of what would become Western civilization.  The book is curiously organized, with regular chapters alternating with shorter ones that are rather like extended appendices.  They open with a look at the mythic Troy, and follow that with a discussion of the city under the mound at Hissarlik within the culture of the Late Bronze Age which has come to be generally accepted as the place that inspired the Homeric epic.  There follows an account of the mythic and traditional histories of the city and the war, a look at what can be learned from the Homeric epics, and how this tradition and archaeology have shaped views of the events to the present.  The book concludes with an overview of the current state of thought on the subject.

The authors are not afraid of controversy, and address head on such difficult questions as whether there actually was a great war on the scale described by Homer, or did the poet merely inflate some small conflict, or perhaps even make it up entirely.  These are questions that will never be settled, nor will we ever grow tired of discussing them.   The Trojan War is well written, wide ranging, touching upon art, science, literature, history, and more, often analytical and insightful.  It will prove a very good read for anyone with even a slight interest in history.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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