Civilisations by Mary Beard


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Details Civilisations

Release DateMar 1st, 2018
PublisherProfile Books
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Art, Religion, Ancient History, Historical

Reviews Civilisations

  • Bettie☯
    watch here1: The first film by Simon Schama looks at the formative role art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself.2: Mary Beard explores images of the human body in ancient art, from Mexico and Greece to Egypt and China3: Simon Schama explores the depiction of nature. Simon discovers that landscape painting is seldom a straightforward description of observed nature4: Professor Mary Beard explores the controver...
  • Annikky
    Very accessible, maybe even too light and brief, but still so many lovely nuggets of insight.
  • Melora
    I think this was a four star book. I read it three month ago -- the last book I read before we moved and I temporarily gave up reading. Mary Beard is always good, but that whole period is now a blur.
  • Charlotte
    Reminds me of why I miss my University days. Mary Beard gives us enough information to spark our interest but not so much that it exhausts our appetite for the subject. We aren’t being thrust information that’s purely black and white, this means this and that is that, but being gently guided to ask questions, explore ideas and think more deeply for ourselves.Plain speaking and very accessible, touching on a broad range for the length of the b...
  • Rohase Piercy
    I do love Mary Beard, but prefer watching her on TV to reading her articles. However having watched and enjoyed her episodes of 'Civilisations' (much more than I enjoyed Simon Schama's!) it was a pleasure to read this beautifully illustrated volume and remind myself of all the fascinating things she said! I did have a bit of a beef with the second part though, 'The Eye of Faith' - she's looking at religious art/representations of the Divine and m...
  • Dan Graser
    Mary Beard is still the most engaging writer of the history of the ancient world to be found anywhere and this somewhat smaller work is a clear example of that. The title, "How Do We Look," works on a number of fronts in that it contrasts that simplistic question - usually asked when fishing for compliments - with the more serious questions this work asks, mainly, how have humans traditionally represented themselves and the divine, and, how do we...
  • James Lancaster
    Very quick read, with beautiful photographs of the various monuments and works presented in the show. I love Mary Beard's work, but her style seems to clash with the more formal approach taken by Kenneth Clark in the first series and Schama and Olusoga's episodes. However, for this review, considering the book on it's own and not the series associated with it. Is a nice, breezy tour through ancient and medieval art with a brief explanation of the...
  • Margaret
    Ties into Mary Beard's two episodes of Civilisations. Looks at how we view civilisation through the media of art and of faith.Interesting, but not as indepth as I would have liked.Worth a read.
  • Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
    If you love a good history documentary, you are likely to have watched one presented by Mary Beard. Mary is a professor of classics and has world-wide academic acclaim. She is regularly on television, written some best selling books on ancient Rome, and also more recently, and disappointingly been the target of some pretty crappy internet trolling. I won’t give those comments and stories any credit here. Instead, I will just talk about this won...
  • GBL
    Mary Beard's book 'How Do We Look?' Is based on her input to the recent TV programme 'Civilisations'. It is a challenging read in two sections; the first raising questions on how we see things and the second dealing with the interaction between religion and art.Beard has written the book in brief sections dealing with particular objects and ideas eg Olmec heads or the ideas behind iconoclasm. She raises many questions for the reader and the book ...
  • Tom
    Engaging, enthusiastic and thought-provoking, but seems a little lightweight. For me, it suffers from a TV producer's desperation to be Not Boring. There's a little too much exposition, repetition and skimming over topics rather than going in satisfyingly deeper.Mary Beard's expertise, energy, humour and anecdotes shine through but I suspect she has published better examples. The second part in particular seemed a bit underpowered as an introduct...
  • Lynne
    Surprisingly easy and quick read that basically covers Beard's two episodes from the recent BBC2 epic (which was brilliant). Covering a wide range of image, Beard presents an analysis of how numerous works of art from pre-history, Ancient Greece, Central and Southern America, China have depicted the changing form of the human body. The second part deals with images of gods and God, again drawing from classical antiquity, stunning Islamic calligra...
  • David Pearce
    This book, like the series was particularly interesting in places and very dull in others. Kenneth Clark's original is often namechecked in this book talking about the fact that his original approach was very ethnocentric. However, the approach of Beard's contribution is also limited given that she didn't go anywhere near Australia, New Zealand, North America or Scandinavia to look at their art or religion. Some of the conclusions and arguments b...
  • John
    I'm a big fan of Mary Beard--as such I can't be too critical with my complaints. I much preferred "The Eye of Faith" with the update of Kenneth Clark's Civilisations.However, that subtle addition of "s" to make it seem more inclusive and I had hope to learn more about WORLD civilization. However, these episodes were still largely about Western Civilization and Christian art. Hence, while quite competent, I left a little disappointed.
  • Hayley
    A great introduction to the world of ancient art and architecture and very accessible for the novice student in the field. Some very interesting observations are made, though it would have been nice to have more examples to further punctuate some points. But, it was refreshing to see examples sited that are from the world wider than the West and the classical civilisations.
  • Kate Page
    I really enjoyed this. Mary Beard is always interesting and accessible. I read this in a couple of hours, but it raises questions and issues that have stayed with me for much longer. It is basically the script of her contributions to the 2018 Civilisations programmes. The book itself is nicely presented and not overly expensive, with good image quality.
  • Caroline Middleton
    A brilliant companion piece of popular history that explores how different ‘civilisations’ have represented themselves, culturally and religiously. Beard’s position as Professor of Classics means she somewhat relies on the ancient world to thread her points together, but a thoroughly interesting and quick read nonetheless. If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be: accessible.
  • Ms. Pietr Young
    Fascinating choice of artworks with great illustrations. Very light on analysis, to the point of a disconnectedness between illustrations and text. I did not watch the TV programs. Perhaps if I had there it would feel more cohesive. Since there is a 'Further Reading' appendix, I do have the chance to fill in some of the gaps.
  • Millie
    Interesting book. Great to see a wider view of the idea of civilisation that doesn't just focus on Europe/western culture. Would love to see some of the topics developed further, though understand the brevity of the book to cover the topics from the television series.
  • Paul Kerr
    A surprisingly easy read given the subject, but a beautiful little book filled with great insights and pictures, particularly the second section on how we articulate faith through art (and vice versa).
  • Richard
    So reading about history has never been my strong point. However Mary Beard makes it interesting and kept my attention right the way through the book. The section on art, in particular how it is portrayed in religion, is of great interest.
  • Tiwi / Kayleigh
    Aaah, I love reading this book. It was one of my favourite episodes of the BBC series civilisations. I love her view of art and how the classical culture is always in the back of our mind. It so enjoyable to read her ideas on this topic again.
  • Emily Sherriff
    A good complementary book to the television series. Covers a range of artefacts and sites but still focuses more on classical and Christian, which is a reflection on Mary Beards expert knowledge of the classical world.
  • Louise
    A tantalising brief look at how the human figure has been portrayed over the centuries, and also the relationship between art and religion. Made me want to delve more deeply. It’s accurate and insightful. Written how she speaks
  • Jan Peter van Kempen
    A very quick and easy read with some very beautiful pictures. I was however half expecting the book to be an extension to the tv-series...
  • gaverne Bennett
    Great read, need to watch series now.
  • Steven
    A quick and very light read on how we look at art, from thousands of years ago to today.