Review: 1177 B.C., Eric Cline

Rating: 2 out of 5

This complex process had many causes that are difficult to describe due to their complexity. (Not a literal quote).

That is a quick summary of Mr Cline’s ‘1177 B.C.’ Not glorious; rather interminable. Not academic enough to be a work of academic history or historical literature review (which, really, it was in the majority); not well-written enough to be a work of narrative history (also with too many useless mentions). It would be easy to go away with the notion that I disliked this book, and that would be correct.

The early history of Mediterranean civilisations is an interesting story, a complex intertwined narration of power and trade, but this book made a farce out of it. Further, some crucial differences of opinion between various historical cliques could have been explained better to make the reader understand these options from the beginning (and why they existed).

The summary began by saying that there are many causes for the collapse of the Late Bronze Age. Yes, I think I could have said that before I started the book… There is some good in this, but one should bring a loupe to find it.

Any saving graces? Few. I liked some of the info on Cyprus as I think it gets overlooked in the typical stories of Egypt-Hittite struggles. I liked the inclusion of Šutruk-Nahhunte and his story, whom I’ve liked ever since “The Emperor’s Club”.

About the author

Comments

  1. With all due respect, and you are certainly welcome to dislike the book as much as you want, but I do not see the sentence that you have quoted and highlighted anywhere in the book. I am currently revising the book for a second edition and thought to fix that sentence, but I do not see it anywhere. It might be that my search has simply failed to locate it, so if you could point me to it, I would be appreciative. Cheers and thanks in advance, EHC

    1. Mr Cline, thanks for your response!

      I’m sorry to have created the impression that it was a direct quote (I tried to rectify that above as well). It was more of a paraphrasing of the ideas that were put forward in the concluding chapters (quite possibly just before the summation of the earthquake effects but I could be wrong in this — running of my memory). I would look up exactly what I meant but the version I used was the audiobook where it is not very easy to search for specific ideas / words.

      What sort of updates are you planning for the second edition of the book if I may ask?

      I should note that what undid the book for me were my own expectations of your work which is not an entirely honest charge to bring against you. The review of the Hittites and their world was very good though I think Bob Brier’s ‘History of Ancient Egypt’ covered the story of Ankhesenamen slightly better. Your summation against the possibility of the main culprit being a drought/famine was also quite good (though could be possibly improved by a more extended review — I think your mention was more general than specific — of the prior famines that were survived and how that came about).

      Cheers & thanks for reaching out!

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