Why Homer Matters is the best book about literature I have read in decades. Significantly, its author, Adam Nicolson, is not a tenured professor at some famous university or even an independent classical scholar. And this difference shows, all to the benefit of the reader. An accomplished sailor, Nicolson has endured gales and felt the spume and spray of sail, like Odysseus. He has faced the cold steel of a dagger point against him on the plains of the Levant, not unlike the warriors of Troy. He is not some old, bald head, annotating lines from his study, but instead advances our understanding of the poems through his own travels and personal discoveries from a life fully lived. Particularly in this age when so much literature is refracted through the prism of political correctness, it is invigorating to read a book so loud and bold in its reassertion of the centrality of these canonical texts to seeing our own world.
That is not to say that the book is not learned. Nicolson has a comprehensive understanding of the most important aspects of Homeric scholarship.