1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed
By Eric H. Cline
Published in September 2015
Thibault’s Score: 5/5
1177 BC, despite the potentially “clickbaitish” title, is an excellent book.
The book covers the history of the bronze age collapse. The century from roughly 1250 BC until 1150 BC is marked by the fall of the hyper-authoritarian palace states that appeared around the Eastern Medeterrainian. The date of 1177 BC was chosen somewhat arbitrarily as the date of the bronze age collapse, but the book covers the broader period.
Cline begins by painting a picture of the rich cultures and civilizations of the Eastern Medeterarian on the eve of the collapse. He then proceeds to systematically cover the events of the collapse, culminating with an overview of the ensuing dark ages.
The causes of the bronze age collapse are not well understood. It is known that several devastating earthquakes trembled the region, and that mysterious “sea peoples” raided the coastline. Other factors such as climate change, revolutions, and technological change may have also played a part.
What I really enjoyed about this book was that Cline walks the fine line between explaining the historiography as well as telling an entertaining story. Many history books, such as those by Harold Lamb, tell a story without reference to the evidence and sources to the point of making me cringe. Others go into pure historiographical minutia without telling any stories or capturing the key points of interest in an era.
Cline does a great job at telling a story while keeping the historiography in mind. He is constantly telling us about archeological findings, inscriptions, and different primary sources.
Overall, this has to be one of the best written historical books I have ever reviewed.
Most of my articles are book reviews, but I also write about many other topics.