Last week I finally managed to finish The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia. I had no time to announce this earth shattering fact (it took me nearly a full year to read this book) to the world immediately because I was too busy blogging about Herodotus at the time.
My final verdict can be expressed in two words:
If this seems a bit harsh, then I have to explain that I did not altogether hate the book. It was extremely informative. Too informative, in fact; I challenge anybody to be able to recall half the facts he read about.
The reasons for my summary dismissal, however, are as follows:
First of all, the book is too heavy. You can’t take it into the bathtub.
Secondly, it’s too big. You can’t take it with you when you’re travelling. It wouldn’t fit into my 33 l super lightweight backpack comfortably. Not to mention it’s too heavy. (Yes, I know: I already said this.) It’s so heavy you’d be charged extra if you tried to take it on board an aeroplane! And you sure don’t want to lug it around in thirty-five degrees heat all the way from Heraklion to Knossos. Not even if you keep in the shade.
Thirdly, it’s rather too boring. Read somebody else’s history. There’s Ernle Bradford; read him. He only wrote about the exciting bits (like this one) and they’re all in separate books that you can in fact take around with you (to the bathtub and on your travels both). He’s rather more entertaining too.
If you’re a university professor of history, then you shouldn’t take books into the bathtub and you shouldn’t mind if a book is boring so you can read Abulafia. On the other hand, then you already should know all the facts he wrote about so…