(6) Wed Apr 27 2005 15:16 PST Ancient Chinese Secret, Huh?:
I am interested in ancient history; I don't know why, but I like hearing about things that happened an incredibly long time ago. Let's say between 1000 BC and 1400 AD. About a year ago I reached the satiation point of my original interest in the Roman Republic and Empire (though I still plan to finish Gibbon, and to read primary sources). I've branched out both temporally and geographically, but I am having big problems finding good-quality books on ancient history. Part of this is probably due to a lack of written documentation about many parts of the world, or at least documentation that is not written by foreigners and full of crap about how peoples' feet are mounted on their foreheads. But some of it is just weird inexplicable gaps.
- I found a highly recommended series on Byzantium by John Julius Norwich (who also invented My Word!). I bought the abridged version because I don't know if I really want three volumes on Byzantium. So that's good.
- There's a million books on post-Roman pre-Renaissance Europe. What is good?
- In my trips to bookstores I have not found anything at all on ancient China, which is really weird because I know there's recorded history there. There are many books on China but none of them seem to deal with anything that happened before the Boxer Rebellion. What's going on here?
- There are some books about ancient Korea but I don't know how to tell which ones are good.
- I haven't found much about the antiquity of other parts of Asia (inc. Russia), or non-Roman or post-Roman Africa.
- I should probably learn about ancient Indian history from sources besides Amar Chitra Katha comic books. I think not all of those are canon since they often include things like flying monkeys.
- There's probably a bunch of stuff about the post-Roman Middle East. I've seen stuff out of my peripheral vision but haven't looked into it for fear of being overwhelmed.
- I haven't really looked into the history of the post-Bering-Strait Americas either, but neither has anything jumped out at me. The tribal nature of ancient North American civilization probably makes a general treatment difficult, but there must be something good about the big South American empires.
- Information on the shoggoth civilization of ancient Antarctica is sadly lacking.
- I could stand to learn more about the ancient Greeks, though I should probably just read primary sources in translation.
- I think I know enough about ancient Egypt, but maybe not. It seems pretty boring. Either you're a grunt and you spend your whole life building the pyramids, or you're the Pharoah and it's all the time folks coming around interpreting your dreams or telling you to let their people go. (Note: observations that antiquity was more or less like this around the world will not be accepted as a substitute for book recommendations.)
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