1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 04 May 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 5467

This is a non-fiction book, on a period earlier than the majority of fantasy works. So why is it here? Well, one, I do a lot of reading of this nature in my quest to find stimulating, non-standard backgrounds for my own writing; two, if Globalisation, Climate Change, Plagues, and a complete social collapse sound familiar, you need to understand how history repeats itself.


Cline starts with an over-view of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age, and then challenges the common view of what might have caused it. The view that droughts caused famine, which mobilised people in the Western Mediterranean looking for greener pastures, and their attacks on the Eastern Mediterranean caused the collapse is a too simplistic.

Cline starts by examining the interconnected cultures and kingdoms of the Late Bronze Age from the fifteenth century BCE, the global trade and political connections between them. Going forward along the centuries to the twelfth century BCE, he examines all the historical records around the Aegean, Egypt, Anatolia, Levant, and Mesopotamia – as well as all the calamitous events that people faced towards the end of the period and leading to the collapse.

I would suggest that you watch this lecture on YouTube. If you find it interesting and thought provoking, you can delve into the book to learn the subject in greater detail.


I liked Cline’s balanced style, at once both rigorous and approachable. This book makes it easy for a non-academic to follow all the resources and reasoning, and understand the period that much better. It is certainly a very enjoyable non-fiction, one that encourages the reader to delve deeper into the fascinating period of the Trojan War and Egypt’s greatness.


This isn’t a text-book on the Late Bronze Age, but a treatise about what might have led to the collapse. It presents the world on a global level, from diplomatic embassies and trade routes, rather than focusing on the details of individual cultures and their internal events.

Also, don’t expect a “smoking gun”, a simplistic explanation that neatly ties everything together. Rather, Cline paints a picture of a hyper-complex world, which fell apart when faced with concurrent, multiple stress factors.


Felix complained that it isn't quite the history he knows about the Trojan wars and the Egyptian empires, but he could certainly see how people in the present wouldn't learn from past mistakes. He'd just like to point out that our world seems to have it easy, because his would no doubt involve some supernatural elements in the mix. 


Highly recommended to anyone who thinks we can still learn something from history. Cline not only describes the collapse of the Late Bronze Age, but also makes it relevant to this modern day and age. Get your copy, and see if it changes your view on today’s world.

Last modified on Monday, 04 May 2020 00:28

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr