I love Paul Cartledge.
He's a brilliant professor of Greek history and has written several articles and books on the subject (Sparta especially). I often refer to these works when I'm working on my novel. So of course I was excited to learn that he has a new book out.
Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities is somewhat of a beginner's guide to Ancient Greece, but still more advanced than say, Ancient Greece for Dummies. It's a good place to start for those with more than a fleeting interest in the subject.
In his latest work, Paul Cartledge attempts to condense the entire history of Ancient Greece into a few hundred pages; a herculean task if there ever was one. He starts from the beginning--literally--by introducing readers to the island culture of Cnossos around 3000 BCE, and ends with the rise and fall of Byzantion. His choice of cities may appear somewhat arbitrary at first (Massalia?), but as he explains in his introduction he actually picked each city carefully. Many of the smaller islands or lesser-known polis were home to many famous philosophers and powerful Greeks, as well locations for many historic battles.
It's a short book and will not be the most detailed thing you've ever read on Ancient Greece, but it is useful for those who want to brush up on their ancient history. Here's a list of cities covered in the book: