The Elgin Marbles: The Story of Archaeology’s Greatest Controversy by Dorothy King - review by Peter Jones

Peter Jones


The Elgin Marbles: The Story of Archaeology’s Greatest Controversy


Hutchinson 494pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

This is the worst book I have ever reviewed. It reads as if it has been cut and pasted from a website by a semi-literate schoolgirl (in my proof copy, King talks of Greek cities ‘still under the [Persian] yolk’) struggling with her GCSE coursework. Doubtless a great deal of labour has gone into it, but to little purpose when the author’s ignorance on many topics is encyclopedic, her ability to clarify and marshal arguments based on evidence that demands careful handling almost non-existent, and her English style execrable (her favourite conjunction is ‘and so’).

Here, for example, King is struggling to say something about (i) the Athenian claim that their first king was born from the earth, and (ii) the absence of mothers from the Parthenon marbles (‘and so one can read the Parthenon as a statement of Athenian misogyny’, she concludes, absurdly):

The Athenians

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