SECRETS OF THE ANCIENTS?
In his latest book, the Stanford classicist Josiah Ober has taken on the ambitious task of analysing a vast swathe of Greek history, from the collapse of Mycenaean civilization to the death of Alexander—precisely the period most admired by those who have devoted any time to the study of Greek antiquity.  Josiah Ober, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Princeton University Press: Princeton 2015, $18.95, paperback 416 pp, 978 0 691 17314 6. Ober’s book falls within the large category of celebratory works about ancient Greece (Werner Jaeger’s once-popular multi-volume Paideia, for example). The author has published six previous studies of classical Greece, with a particular focus on the character of Athenian democracy. He shares with his high-profile Stanford colleagues Ian Morris and Walter Scheidel a belief that historians can obtain reliable statistical data for pre-modern economies, and interpret that data in the light of present-day economic categories to make sweeping comparisons across time and space. Ober is forthright about his ideological agenda in the book’s preface:
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