This book is the fruit of many conversations about the Greeks I have experienced over the years. My students at the California State University in Fresno are practical realists who demand to know clearly why they should bother about a civilization dead for twenty‐ five hundred years. Meeting their demand has made me think hard about why anyone should care. Likewise with the Elderhostlers to whom I lecture at the St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, California. They too want the straight dope without any professional obfuscation or faddishness. I'm grateful for both audiences.
I have long thought about this book, but the support and enthusiasm of Peter Collier, publisher of Encounter Books, gave me a push at the right time. My friend and colleague Victor Davis Hanson has over the years generously allowed me to plunder from his vast store of knowledge about all things Hellenic. He also read the manuscript and saved me from numerous infelicities of fact and style. My wife and best friend Jacalyn also read the manuscript and made many valuable suggestions. I am grateful to her and my sons Isaac and Cole, who cheerfully put up with my long absences among the Greeks, and who always know how to bring me back.