Athens US


Athens: A History: US paperback

Greek edition

A sweeping history of the city that invented democracy and still resonates as a beacon of civilization, from the golden age of Pericles to the present day. In this engaging and readable narrative, noted classicist and author Robin Waterfield traces the life and history of the Greek capital, with an emphasis on the classical period when, in the space of a century, Athens reached the pinnacle of power and then fell due to arrogance and shortsighted self-interest. Focusing on the social and cultural history, as well as on the powerful and fascinating individuals who left their mark on the city, Waterfield explains Athens' rise and fall, and shows us how - through centuries of war, occupation and destruction - it emerged as a burgeoning, modern European city. For more than two millennia the memory of the glorious past has ensured that Athens remains synonymous with democracy, civilization and culture.


‘An elegant account of classical Athens, with a fascinating look forward to the modern history of this extraordinary city’ - Mary Beard

‘A splendid introduction, dispassionate yet sympathetic, accessible for first-time visitors to the 2004 Olympics, widely informative for everyone who cares about Greece, ancient and modern’ - Mary Lefkowitz

‘An evocative and timely hymn of praise to the enduring spirit of one of the world’s greatest cities … This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in how the past informs the present’ - Robert Garland

‘A sympathetic account … that is as critical as it is free of condescension - superbly written with great empathy’ - Victor Davis Hanson

'Rarely has anyone told the story with such charm, elegance, and insight into the lives of Athenians through the ages' - Eugene Borza, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

‘Waterfield’s study of the deep footprints of the classical era in general and the Olympic ideal in particular is honest, accessible, and enlightening’ - Brendan Driscoll, Booklist

‘Full of insights’ - Martin Gayford, Daily Telegraph

‘Robin Waterfield reminds us that the ideal of fifth-century Athenian perfectionism itself was a myth … fascinating tidbits … judicious history’ - Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal

‘Waterfield’s narrative is clear, well organized, reasonable in its judgments and - bearing in mind how compressed he has to be - eminently readable’ - Peter Green, Los Angeles Times

‘The core of the book is a good account for the general reader of the classical city and its institutions and way of life … Waterfield writes interestingly about the institutions of classical Athens’ - Michael Llewellyn Smith, The Anglo-Hellenic Review

‘Wide-ranging, knowledgeable, clear, sympathetic, and thorough … an admirable introduction to one of the world’s most brilliant cities’ - Peter Jones, Literary Review

‘Lucidly written’ - Michael Squire, Times Literary Supplement

‘A good read’ - John Papadopoulos, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

‘One contribution of Waterfield’s book is to bring together travelers’ reactions to Athens in its various states of abjectness, from late antiquity through the nineteenth century. Another is to set out clearly the reasons why the idea of ancient Athens mattered so much to these intellectual pilgrims, and why that idea also should have relevance to the citizens of today’s one remaining superpower’ - T. Corey Brennan, Newsday

‘To appreciate just how significant the city once was, take a break from the games and look at Robin Waterfield’s breezy history’ - John Freeman, Pittburgh Post-Gazette


Rights Sold

UK: Macmillan

US: Basic Books

Greece: Enalios