This book gives a very good historical analysis of the Phoenician people. The book also offers many insights into the people the Phoenicians traded with. There is quite a bit of interesting history in the book such as the trade and alliance between the Egyptians and the Phoenicians. The information seems to be well researched and very well presented. The book brings history to life.
Wonderful story, but largely a myth
The Phoenicians did not leave behind many written texts documenting their civilization. This allows Sanford Holst, who clearly loves the Phoenicians, to fill any gap in our knowledge with his own utopian ideals. It is undisputed that the Phoenicians were the greatest explorers, ship builders, and traders of the Ancient World. But in this book, Holst credits them with virtually every major accomplishment of all the civilizations of the ancient world, from the Pyramids of Egypt, to the palaces of Minoan Crete.
Holst claims that the Phoenicians created the Minoan Civilization on Crete and were directly responsible for the construction of the palaces there. He doesn't present any evidence for this in the book, but I did some online research and found another academic paper he wrote (phoenician.org/minoans_phoenicians_paper.htm) where he claims that, because the Phoenician cities in Lebanon were abandoned in the same century or two as the Minoan Palaces in Crete, and were then reestablished after the fall of Minoan Civilization, this must mean that the Phoenicians left Lebanon to create Minoan Civilization, and then, hundreds of years later, returned to their homeland. This would be a revolutionary new theory, for it to hold any real merit in the field of Archaeology, it would need much stronger evidence to support it, I hope Holst can find some in the years to come.
When Holst claims that the Pyramids must have been built by Maltese stone builders brought to Egypt by the Phoenicians, simply because the stone structures in Malta predate those of Egypt, and the Phoenicians probably visited the island of Malta at that time, I began to realize that this book was not an academic work but mere fantasy.
This is a good fantasy story of an ancient people that we know little about, but do not take any of Holst's assertions as fact. Most of them have little or no supporting evidence.
A fascinating narrative
Sanford Holst has created a fascinating, accessible, and intriguing narrative of the Pheonicians. It explains how the success of trade and the necessary inventions, including the alphabet, developed in the civilizations in the Mediterranean. There were many peaceful people and tolerant societies in the ancient world, including the people of Malta, Crete, and Phoenicia. Since that is different from Roman culture, however, some people prefer to say Phoenician society could not have existed. This book shows there were several different cultures at that time, and we can learn from each of them.
This is more in the vein of Sharon Kay Penman's triology (Here Be Dragons et al) of early Wales/England. Sadly, it is not quite as well written as that.
In spite of this being my grandfather's heritage, I could not maintain my interest in continuing reading. It would have been far better to present the actual known facts and how it is that we know these facts (i.e. what evidence exists to support it).
Perhaps, one day, someone will actually write a history of these worthy people. This just isn't it.
Politically Correct History
This is a very good introduction to the ancient society called Phoenician; for those who have not studied it. "Those" would be most of us who were schooled in the West, and taught to believe that the only important history is Greco/Roman, Anglo/Saxon, and Judeo/Christian.
As a retired professor, I know first hand about the pressure to support the dominant myths of a society. There is also the pressure to support ones own acedemic discipline, to the exclusion of the findings of related disciplines. Failing these, one does not get grants, rank, or tenure.
A convergence of the findings of History, Cultural and Physical Anthropology, Archeology, Genetics, Geology, Linguistics, and Folklore presents compelling evidence for an expanded view.
The mysterious "Indo-Europeans" stemmed from the earliest civilization around what is now called the Black Sea. They were displaced by the deluge at the end of the last Ice Age, when the Bosporus suddenly broke and precipitously flooded the inland lake that was there prior.
The descendents of these people came to be called many names by others; most notably (herein) Phoenicians in the south and Celts in the northwest. Those remaining near the vastly expanded Black Sea also were called many things by others; among them, Scythians and Thracians.
These people established trade routes and settlements ranging from China, throughout Europe, the Levant, and to the Western Hemisphere! Their language, culture, and genes are a part of the heritage in all of these places.
I would like to implore Mr. Holst to expand his history, perhaps in a second volume. He is probably in a position to be independent of political correctness. In the meantime, let me recommend to those interested: "Sailing to Paradise", Jim Bailey, Simon & Shuster, 1994