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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

On sale

18th January 2024

Price: £29.99

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Selected: Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781409183471

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From SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING author Bettany Hughes

‘A wondrous wonderful achievement’ Stephen Fry ‘Fascinating’ Observer ‘Thrilling’ Guardian

Their names still echo down the ages: The Great Pyramid at Giza. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Temple of Artemis. The statue of Zeus at Olympia. The mausoleum of Halikarnassos. The Colossus at Rhodes. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Seven Wonders of the World were staggeringly audacious impositions on our planet. They were also brilliant adventures of the mind, test cases for the reaches of human imagination. Now only the great pyramid remains fully standing, yet the scale and majesty of these seven wonders still enthral us today.

In a thrilling, colourful narrative enriched with the latest archaeological discoveries, bestselling historian Bettany Hughes walks through the landscapes of both ancient and modern time. This is a journey whose purpose is to ask why we wonder, why we create, why we choose to remember the wonder of others. She explores traces of the Wonders themselves, and the traces they have left in history. A magisterial work of historical storytelling, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World reinforces the exciting and nourishing notion that humans can make the impossible happen.


James Romm, author of Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero
Informed by careful research and enriched by inspired prose, this book is itself a wonder. Bettany Hughes has given new and powerful meaning to the ancient world's most iconic monuments.
Bijan Omrani, Literary Review
A meditation on the enduring idea of wonder . . . Hughes's narrative is alive with detail relating to the construction and daily operations of the Seven Wonders in their prime. This is heightened by her intimate knowledge of the archaeological sites
Stephen Fry
Bettany Hughes is the most perfect tour guide I know. Her boundless enthusiasm, clarity and learning combined with a matchless gift for storytelling bring the Wonders of the World leapingly alive. A wondrous wonderful achievement.
Martin Chilton, Independent
Egypt's The Great Pyramid, the only one of the Seven Wonders that survives virtually intact, reminds us of the overwhelming human desire to collaborate and create "beyond the possibilities of the individual," states Bettany Hughes in her rich historical study The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on The Hanging Gardens of Babylon and learned that "paradise" comes from the Persian word for a beautiful walled garden
Cumberland News
Encourages the reader to question why humanity creates, why we remember some wonders over others, and what it is about the stories entwined with them that fire our curiosity
New Statesman
Bettany Hughes's vivid book is a work of reconstruction in which she recreates not just the buildings themselves but the reactions of the travellers of antiquity... There is no hint of the dry-as-dust lecture here, rather a palpable sense of her own excitement in disinterring these extraordinary edifices.
The Herald, Glasgow
Hugely engaging
Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den
Taking us on a truly fascinating journey through the ancient world, Bettany Hughes not only rebuilds the wonders themselves in the reader's imagination, but also vividly conjures up the culture and environment in which they existed. It is a tale of people as well as places, and I loved learning about what the wonders meant to those who built and visited them, their stories told by Bettany Hughes with trademark passion and humour.
The Times
[A]well-researched travelogue, which draws heavily on recent archaeological discoveries.
Kate Williams
Thrilling, epic, exciting, Bettany Hughes' gripping and scrupulously researched Seven Wonders takes you as if by magic to the great, lost sites of ancient genius, these incredible feats of human imagination and breadth. With skill, scholarship and brilliant writing, Bettany Hughes explores these majestic sites in detail. A magical, sweeping, dazzling book.
Ben East, Observer
A trip to modern-day Egypt is an appropriate starting point for Bettany Hughes's fascinating exploration of the impact such structures have had on our history and imagination. Mixing the latest archaeological and historical research with a bright, inquisitive style makes these places - and their peoples - come alive.
Country Walking
One of our most intrepid and cherished TV historians
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The World: A Family History
A lively exploration of the ancient world, this fascinating book is brimming with stories of people and places, all told with Bettany's natural sense of wonder and adventure.
A thrilling journey in the footsteps of the ancients... One of the great joys of Hughes's book is the way she follows her wonders into their own less-than-glorious afterlives... It is this capacity to move deftly between registers - mythic, historical, sacred, profane and pitifully personal - that makes her such a beguiling guide.
Lucy Worsley, author of Agatha Christie
A thrilling armchair journey from a very wise woman. Bettany Hughes is the eighth wonder of the world.
Nick Duerden, i paper
Hughes has long been one of television's more vivacious historical guides, and here she doubles down on her enthusiasm in a book that transforms these ancient sites into vivid three dimensions for even the most armchair-bound of travellers. It is at once a travelogue and a textbook, and is possessed of an insatiable craving for knowledge ... That she loves her subject is given, but the fact that she manages to endlessly fascinate even those amongst us for whom the ancient world rarely intrudes into the modern is perhaps the real achievement here. History couldn't ask for a better ambassador
Press Association
This book will fire your imagination and take you on a wonderful tour of the ancient world.
Dan Jones, author of Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages
This is an entrancing book, at once a love letter to the ancient world and a learned introduction to some of the most astonishing feats of imagination and engineering in human history. It is a pleasure to wander lost realms and inspect (mostly) vanished marvels through Bettany Hughes' bright and erudite writing.
Tracy Borman
So vividly written that it is as if the reader is there, discovering the Seven Wonders first hand. The stories behind them are endlessly fascinating, often surprising, and stay in the memory long after the last page has been turned. A dazzling achievement.
Paul Cartledge, author of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece
Every page of this generously illustrated travelogue yields a treasure house of information and reflection on Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek masterworks of architecture, urban planning and sculpture.
Peter Frankopan
This fantastic new book from the brilliant Bettany a joy from the outset.
Family Tree Magazine
In an age of travel lists, Buzzfeed popularity-style polls, and online travelogues, this is a fascinating look at the ancient monuments that were a craze in their own times