Fabulous introduction to the turmoils inside and around the great persian empire. No, it does not spend chapters on breeding the persian cat, instead it focuses on most interesting story how the empire was born and how it has become one of the most powerful force of the times. An interesting read for anyone studying the topic, he would also find the references and bibliography very useful for further studies. Westerns should also take a peek at least, since the book shows how Pershians managed to create multicultural multinational world capable of conquering european 'white power' by the Middle Ages... It sure explores the political and economic ideas used within the lands, presents how fast-forward thinking and inventive the nations were and how it allowed them to develop and expand into major political power between pharaohs in the east and the nile, freezing himalayas and beyond, indian subcontinent and beyond, and finally the later catered european reach in the form of greeks followed by Roman Empires. The book examines certain beliefs and viewpoints introducing one the long debates as well as angles on the reason why the Persians chose to settle down and develop into powerful force of civilisation in a land so close to surrounding sands and how their civilisation might have helped save the western ones from the easterners at the same time improving economy and trade. Sure, it does require of reader to have some knowledge of ancient history but not as much as some university course books do. It is quite informative and with the text easily flowing through pages you do not feel overtly tired of reading them. It does leave you with some questions but it's what a book should do - give information in enough portions for an academic or interested one to find the book's contents useful while restricting and limiting itself for a normal person not to fall asleep by the tenth page. Wiesehofer managed just that, maybe a little too much of academic language is used but it's not a fasion/style weekly for teenagers so this shouldn't be held againt him. What really counts is how fluid the information crammed transfer to the reader is and how much of it is showed through those pupils of his/hers. A really good read for anyone, but not perfect... So when can we expect new edition with even more on the topic?