This lively, beautifully illustrated history of the civilizations that rose and fell on the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea represents the culmination of a great historian’s unparalleled art, eye, and scholarship. John Julius Norwich is renowned for his magisterial histories, including the two-volume A History of Venice and the three-volume Byzantium. The Middle Sea showcases the qualities that have made him one of the most respected and popular historians of our day; witty prose, scrupulous research, and an unerring ability to bring to life the dramatic event, the colorful character, and the telling detail. Norwich traverses five thousand years of history, tracing the growth of culture, trade, political alliances and enmities, and religious movements from the Phoenician civilization to present-day Mediterranean nations. In a vivid, fully accessible narrative, he recounts the achievements of the Phoenicians, those great sea traders who carried not just goods but also knowledge to Europe and parts of Asia, the glories of ancient Egypt, the extraordinary contributions of the Greeks, and the rise of the mighty Romans. The twin stories of Byzantium and Islam, the dominant forces after the fall of Rome, crescendo in the incredible saga of the Fourth Crusade and carry readers to the reemergence of a vibrant Europe. From the far-reaching developments in medieval France to the Renaissance wars in Italy to the triumph of Isabella’s Spain, Norwich provides a brilliant portrait of the intermingling of ancient conflicts and modern sensibilities that shape life today on the shores of the Middle Sea.