Wonders of the World

This is a small series of books, under the general editorship of Mary Beard, that focuses on some of the world’s most famous sites or monuments.

Below are the in-print works in this collection. Sort by title, author, format, publication date, or price »

Cover: The Alhambra

The Alhambra

Irwin, Robert

The Alhambra is the only Muslim palace to have survived since the Middle Ages and has long been a byword for exotic and melancholy beauty. In his absorbing new book, Robert Irwin, Arabist and novelist, examines its history and allure.

Cover: Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Jenkyns, Richard

Westminster Abbey is the most complex church in existence. This is both an appreciation of an architectural masterpiece and an exploration of the building’s shifting meanings. We hear the voices of those who have described its forms, moods, and ceremonies, from Shakespeare and Voltaire to Dickens and Henry James; we see how rulers have made use of it, from medieval kings to modern prime ministers.

Cover: The Temple of Jerusalem

The Temple of Jerusalem

Goldhill, Simon

It was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago, and yet the Temple of Jerusalem—cultural memory, symbol, and site—remains one of the most powerful, and most contested, buildings in the world. This glorious structure, imagined and re-imagined, reconsidered and reinterpreted again and again over two millennia, emerges in all its historical, cultural, and religious significance in Simon Goldhill’s account.

Cover: The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Hopkins, Keith
Beard, Mary

The Colosseum’s history is much stranger than the legend. In this engaging book, we learn the details of how the arena was built and at what cost; we meet the emperors who sometimes fought in gladiatorial games; and we take measure of the audience who reveled in, or opposed, these games. The authors also trace the strange afterlife of the monument.

Cover: The Tomb of Agamemnon

The Tomb of Agamemnon

Gere, Cathy

Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer’s King Agamemnon, leapt into the headlines in the late nineteenth century when Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had opened the Tomb of Agamemnon and found the body of the hero smothered in gold treasure. In this book, historian of science Cathy Gere tells the story of these extraordinary ruins.

Cover: The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt

The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt

Ray, John

The Rosetta Stone is one of the world’s great wonders, attracting awed pilgrims by the tens of thousands each year. This book tells the Stone’s story, from its discovery by Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt to its current—and controversial—status as the single most visited object on display in the British Museum.

Cover: St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s

Miller, Keith

Built by the decree of Constantine, rebuilt by Renaissance Italian architects, emulated by Hitler’s architect, immortalized by Fellini, and fictionalized by an American bestseller, St. Peter’s is the world’s most recognizable church. Miller covers the social, political, and architectural history of the church from the fourth century to the present.

Cover: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Tillotson, Giles

The meaning of the Taj Mahal, the perceptions and responses it prompts, ideas about the building and the history that shape them: these form the subject of Giles Tillotson’s book. More than a richly illustrated history, this book is an eloquent meditation on the place of the Taj Mahal in the cultural imagination of India and the wider world.

Cover: Stonehenge


Hill, Rosemary

Rosemary Hill guides the reader on a tour of Stonehenge in all its cultural contexts, as a monument to many things—to Renaissance Humanism, Romantic despair, Victorian enterprise, and English Radicalism.

Cover: Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

Fenlon, Iain

The Piazza San Marco, one of the most famous, instantly recognizable townscapes in the West, has been described as a stage set, Europe’s drawing room, a painter’s canvas. This book traces its changing shape and function, from its beginnings in the ninth century to its present day ubiquity in the Venetian, European, as well as global imagination.

Cover: The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Watkin, David

One of the most visited sites in Italy, the Roman Forum is also one of the best-known wonders of the Roman world. David Watkin sheds completely new light on the Forum, examining the roles of the ancient remains while revealing what exactly the standing structures embody—including the rarely studied medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, as well as the nearby monuments that have important histories of their own.

Cover: The Parthenon, Revised Edition

The Parthenon, Revised Edition

Beard, Mary

This book conducts readers through the storied past and towering presence of the most famous building in the world. In this revised version of her classic study, Mary Beard now includes the story of the long-awaited new museum opened in 2009 to display the sculptures from the building that still remain in Greece, as well as the controversies that have surrounded it, and asks whether it makes a difference to the “Elgin Marble debate.”

Cover: Vesuvius


Darley, Gillian

The cataclysm that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79 continues to fascinate nearly two thousand years later. Darley’s meditation on a powerful natural wonder touches on pagan beliefs, vulcanology, and travel writing, as it sifts through the ashes of Vesuvius to expose changes in our understanding of cultural and natural environments.

Cover: The Buddhas of Bamiyan

The Buddhas of Bamiyan

Morgan, Llewelyn

For 1,400 years, two colossal Buddhas overlooked the Bamiyan Valley on the Silk Road in Afghanistan. The Buddhas embodied the intersection of East and West, and their destruction by the Taliban in 2001 provoked international outrage. Morgan excavates the layers of meaning these vanished wonders hold for a fractured Afghanistan.

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Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,