1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
An academic treatise with a sexy title and premise, Eric H. Cline's book is more of an extended research paper than a cohesive narrative.
Although packed with intriguing historical detail, Cline is so determined to stay true to proven historical documentation that he is hardly willing to add any opinion or interpretation to fill out his premise. The result is an unfulfilling, footnote-driven rundown of various debates between historians that can never be decisively settled due to lack of supporting evidence.
A better book would have used the research as a jumping off point, then infused some imagination to explain why it was that the first interconnected, globalized economy came to a sudden halt.
Oddly, given our coronavirus-plagued times, disease is never mentioned as a possible catalyst for the fall of the various empires. Instead, Cline speculates that earthquakes or invasions from unidentified "Sea Peoples" -- who could also have been victims of the same globalized cataclysm -- may have sparked the catastrophe.
In the Audible version, narrator Andy Caploe injects a little verve into the otherwise dry read, infusing the words with history-nerd passion that emphasizes some of the more intriguing nuggets that Cline digs up.
Still, the book is worth a read due to its magnificent premise -- an ancient history world that largely echoes our current state in terms of commerce, trade, grudges and interdependence. The chilling lesson, though not without its redemptive Darwinian qualities, is that a global economy is a house of cards prone to rapidly-spreading destruction.
Publisher provided review copy.
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