Last night my agent sent me an email with a review attached–from Booklist, one of the other major industry review journals (besides Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal, which called my mind “fertile” but hasn’t done a full review yet). So here it is….


The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.
Bauer, Susan Wise (author).
Feb. 2007. 800p. Norton, hardcover, $29.95 (0-393-05974-X). 930.
REVIEW. First published January 1, 2007 (Booklist).

Bauer’s annals, which span the millennia between the traces of Sumer and the Roman emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 CE, are an attractive introduction to a subject vast in time and geography. She writes briskly and interpretively, and is attuned throughout to the challenge of rulers: appearing to the ruled as legitimate holders of power. This sensibility makes her narratives acutely interesting, as Bauer pierces the biases inherent in most ancient sources to discern the sincerity or the cynicism with which power seekers pursued their goals. Above, approval of the divine was invaluable; on Earth, a loyal army was indispensable. Acquiring both enabled lawgivers to make their writ stick, and Bauer’s chronicles exhibit the interaction of priestly, military, and legal powers as empires and dynasties wax and wane. This endows continuity to her accounts of polities as disparate as the Harappan civilization of the Indus River or the states that emerged from misty prehistory along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers to form China. Nonacademic and sometimes colloquial in composition, Bauer’s survey will spark the imagination.
— Gilbert Taylor

YA/C: The chronological organization, many maps and graphs, and accessible writing make this a must-have resource for advanced history students. GE.


My agent also wanted to know whether he should continue to send me copies of reviews, which (good or bad) have the potential to throw the creative process into chaos.

So I thought this over, and here’s what I wrote back:

“I know this sounds ridiculously feeble, but could you send the good ones along and put the ones that contain criticisms in a file? When I finish the next book in April 2008, I’d like to ask you to pull that file back out and send me anything that contains helpful remarks (you can ditch the really savage ones). But I want to get the next MS totally done first.”

I’m hoping that will combine the benefits of criticism with the benefits of ignoring what other people think of what you write. 🙂

Showing 6 comments
  • Stephanie

    Hi Susan! I’m a long-time reader but new follower. What an encouraging review! I hope you read it so as well. My husband and I are about to embark on the homeschool journey with our 7, 4, and 2 year olds. Your stuff has been the catalyst for me to make this change — I read your life and I begin to think ‘maybe it is possible to do this and no longer perpetuate the stereotypes’. Thanks for living your life out loud in such a way as to encourage those around you. I can’t wait to read these volumes when they’re out!

    Steph in Wisconsin

  • Sherry

    I have a question. I’m planning to teach a high school level co-op class for our homeschool co-op next year. The subject will be ancient history. Would your book be an appropriate text or is it too advanced for high schoolers?

  • The Tutor

    Huzzah! I like your request to your editor as well. Smart thinking. Allows the periodic boost with the advantage of growing form criticism in the long-term. Very balanced.

    I am looking forward to it’s release. When *is* it coming out? I noticed that the review says Feb. 2007, but Amazon is saying Mar. 26th.


  • A Circle of Quiet

    Love that “must-have resource” line! And amen to ditching the totally savage reviews.

    Happy writing,

  • Colleen in NS

    Great review – congratulations!


  • Lori

    Hooray for good reviews!

    I’m going to send my hubby an e-mail link to your discussion of using color codes to denote writing time and other time. I’m hoping it’ll get him going on a similar plan of his own for writing his book.

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