In this sequel to his earlier histories Isaac Asimov concentrates on the western end of the Fertile Crescent, the strip of land that forms the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Throughout the history of civilization no nation has occupied the entire area but in part at least part of it was known as Canaan. Now it is split up between Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
Although the focus of this book is a small area, this part of the world contributed more to modern civilization than all the mighty empires of the nearby Nile Valley and of the Tigris and Euphrates. For it was the land of Canaan that gave birth to the modern alphabet, and it was here also that a religion developed which now, in various forms, dominates Europe, the Americas, western Asia, and northern Africa.
Isaac Asimov approaches his subject with his usual gusto, breadth of vision, and clear and witty style. In this remarkable author’s hands the story of the troubled land, under continuous assault from larger powers, takes on a new significance and a new continuity as well. For, as the book ends, a fully formed Judaism and its offspring, Christianity, are beginning to spread their influence.
Another solid history published by Houghton-Mifflin. Here Asimov covers Canaanites and Israelite history, which includes a rather broad stretch, since it includes two rather disparate cultures, one of which was spread across the Mediterranean. Again, this is a good book in the tradition started with The Greeks, and something I would gladly recommend to anybody, with, however, a definite proviso—because Asimov is talking about Israelites, some readers might find severe conflicts between the information presented here and their understanding of history from the Bible, as was the case of Asimov’s Guide to the Bible.