What to Expect
The book is divided into 4 parts, from the first civilisations to rise, to the early iron age, through the rise and then the fall of Rome. As those great civilisations rose and fell, they came into contact with other people, and they are the focus of this book.
Each section follows a few of those lesser known people, from their first appearance in recorded history to their eventual disappearance. Many of them are only known from the records of the "big" civilisations that left records, but Matyszak carefully collects all the evidence - historical and archaeological to present a picture of what life was for them.
What I liked
I love Matyszak flowing style, that brings dusty archaeological remains and obscure original references to life. He keeps you engaged and involved in those long forgotten people, while gently educating and expanding your understanding of historical processes at the same time.
What to be aware of
This is not a primary history book. Each section follows a particular people, about their interactions with others. It can be a big disjointed if you try to follow overall events, as the aim is different. It will broaden and deepen your understanding of what happens at the edges of history.
Felix, who comes from one of the "main" cultures, has seen both those 'barbarian' waves crashing against the borders of his burgeoning empire and conquered people thoughtlessly integrated into his culture. He has a low opinion of the politicians leading his republic so he wasn't surprised to hear that their mismanagement has caused many allied or subjugated people to turn into intractable enemies. Still, for him, life is what it is and he plans to make the most of the ascendancy of his culture.
I love reading history, and this books offers a very unique perspective about subjects not often covered in depth. If you want to learn more than the beaten path, this is for you.