HISTORY AND CULTURE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATIONS

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Ancient Romans and their Neighbors: An Activity Guide, by Simonetta Carr (Chicago Review Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2019, 150 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

August 28, 2019 (San Diego) - Simonetta Carr, an East County (Santee, California) resident, award-winning author of Michelangelo for Kids, Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids and Christian Biographies for Young Readers, has written another educational book geared towards whetting the instructional and educational appetite of young readers; Ancient Romans and their Neighbors: An Activity Guide.

This insightful book by Carr is geared towards young readers ages 9 and up, and serves as an activity guide to get those readers more actively involved in history. Children will explore ancient Roman culture – along with the cultures of their neighbors, the Etruscans, Carthaginians, and Celts – to learn how these societies have influenced our modern world, from our language, buildings, and laws to our concepts of liberty and citizenship.

In addition to this lively history, this resource contains more than 30 hands-on projects for young archaeologists to gain a better understanding of these remarkable Mediterranean cultures.

I found myself particularly enamored and intrigued by the exploits of Hannibal of Carthage and his military campaign against the Romans, expertly presented in this fascinating book by Carr. According to the author, Hannibal became the most formidable enemy the republic of Rome ever faced, and what made his march towards Rome even more impractical, was the fact that his march was across the Alps mountain range along with 37 North African elephants.

Carr points out that on the way up the mountains, Hannibal began to suffer great losses. Some elephants fell into ravines and died. Frostbite was common, and many men froze to death. Rations were short and morale was low. Because Hannibal had no maps, sometimes the soldiers had to retrace their steps. This vivid story painted by the author takes me back to my childhood memories many years ago, of the life and legend of Hannibal that I used to read about in the history books, with my recollection of how he utilized elephants to gain victory.

The ancient Romans lived thousands of years before our time, but they left an indelible influence on our language, buildings, laws, ideas of liberty and citizenship, and much more. Ancient Romans and Their Neighbors will teach children to recognize these enduring marks and to appreciate the rich culture of ancient Rome. But the Romans didn’t do it all alone. They learned a lot from their neighbors – fascinating cultures that are more relevant than many imagine. The Etruscans, inhabitants of modern-day Tuscany, created a unique, colorful and highly refined culture, pioneering many elements of architecture, art and fashion that have been attributed to the Romans.

The Celts, who have long captured popular imagination with fascinating stories of druids and magic potions, were a complex and resourceful population that left an important mark in much of Europe. The Carthaginians are normally remembered because of Hannibal’s daring crossing of the Alps on African elephants, but there is much more to their history and culture, which made them for a time the most powerful force along the Mediterranean Sea. Well-researched and based on the latest findings, this unique comparison of ancient civilizations is also full of engaging activities that will give children a taste of daily life in ancient times.

This fascinating book by Carr, although geared towards young adults, it certainly grabs the attention of older adults such as myself. This is a book that I highly recommend.

Dennis Moore has been an Associate Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

Comments

History & Culture of Western Civilizations

Once again Dennis Moore has taken a topic not even close to my heart and sparked my interest with another insightful and vividly painted review. I haven't thought about the Roman's since the dusty old days of history classes or to be fair perhaps a recent viewing of "Ben Hur" on TCM, but other than that this is the first time I desire to read a book on the subject. Having a 9-year old daughter makes this new find even more rewarding since that's the age group targeted to grasp and be exposed to this wealth of fundamental and important knowledge. However, i agree with the review point stating it's a book for all ages, as all informative reading is. Thank you, Simonetta Carr for preserving these stories in print and thank you Dennis for further life exposure. I'm looking forward to your perspective on my upcoming book, "This Day in Comedy: The Ethnic Encyclopedia of Laughter" being published by TrineDay and on pre-sale at Amazon.com right now.