Best books about Greek History

Recommended books on Greek history

Greek history is an expansive and fascinating topic. There are many excellent sources to choose from, ranging from ancient primary sources to modern secondary analyses. Here are some recommendations, grouped by the general period or topic of Greek history:

Ancient Primary Sources:

“The Histories” by Herodotus : Often called the ‘Father of History,’ Herodotus wrote this account of the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BCE.

The Peloponnesian War” by Thucydides: Thucydides offers a detailed contemporary account of the war between Athens and Sparta in the 5th century BCE.

“The Histories” by Polybius: This is a key source for understanding the Roman Republic’s conquest of Greece in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE.
General Histories and Overviews:

“The Oxford History of Greece & the Hellenistic World” by John Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray: This book offers a comprehensive look at Greek history from the early Bronze Age through the Hellenistic period.

“The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian” by Robin Lane Fox: This book covers over six centuries of ancient Greek and Roman history.

“A History of the Ancient World” by Chester G. Starr: This classic text offers a thorough exploration of the entirety of ancient history, including the Greek world.

Specific Topics

“Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West” by Tom Holland: This is an excellent resource for understanding the Persian Empire’s interaction with the Greek city-states.

“The Parthenon” by Mary Beard” This book provides insights into one of the most famous structures in Athens.

“Sparta: A Captivating Guide to the Spartans, Greco-Persian Wars, Battle of Thermopylae, and Peloponnesian War” by Captivating History: This book provides a detailed look at Spartan society and major military events involving Sparta.

Later Greek History

“A Short History of Byzantium” by John Julius Norwich: Norwich’s work is a great source for those interested in the Byzantine Empire, which was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East, with Greek becoming the predominant language.

“The Making of Modern Greece (Nationalism, Romanticism, & the Uses of the Past (1797-1896)” by Roderick Beaton and David Ricks: This book provides an overview of the emergence of the modern Greek state.