Why Did Ancient Greeks Ride Elephants Into Battle? by Tim Cooke

The Blurb On The Back:

Why did ancient Greeks ride elephants into battle?

Discover history for yourself with this fun, quirky series that tackles the questions other books are afraid to ask!

– Why did the ancient Greeks exercise naked?

– How did an owl inspire a city-state?

– And just what was Pythagoras’ theory of … beans?

A QUESTION OF HISTORY: THE ANCIENT GREEKS answers all these questions and much more.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order WHY DID ANCIENT GREEKS RIDE ELEPHANTS INTO BATTLE? by Tim Cook from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Tim Cooke is an experienced children’s author and editor with a particular interest in history.  This fun introduction to the ancient Greeks (part of a series) aimed at readers aged 9+ has cheerful illustrations by Matt Lilly and gives you a very broad idea of who the ancient Greeks were (perhaps too broad as some topics are a bit random).  That said, it’s a good way of getting youngsters interested in classical history and so is worth a look.

Cooke starts off by explaining what we know about the beginnings of Ancient Greek civilisation via the Minoans and moves on to looking at agriculture and food, the city state system, how they fought (and why they did so on elephants), the Olympic Games and sports, Greek mythology, what life was like for women (i.e. not great in terms of freedom and expectations), democracy and a bit on philosophy (including what Pythagoras thought about beans).  

It’s all done in an entertaining, light-hearted way and Matt Lilly’s illustrations do a good job of drawing out the humour while also reinforcing the information.  However some of the topics do seem a bit random (e.g. you go from a section on Ancient Greek democracy to a section on why Pythagoras was anti the eating of beans) while others are likely to cover areas that young readers are already familiar with (e.g. the section on the Greek gods) so the overall effect for me was that it didn’t pull together particularly cohesively as a whole.  That said, I found the sections on Minoan civilisation and what life was like for women and girls to be very informative and if you have a youngster who’s showing an interest in classical civilisation then the wide spread of topics means that there’s something they’re bound to enjoy.

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