The first half of the book lives up to its reputation. The story of folly and false pride and mis-perceptions and hubris is told very well in the exposition. The style takes some getting used to, as it is impossible for a non-expert to keep track of the many names, places, and dates that clutter each page. But trusting her authority on the facts, her narrative causes shock and wincing heartbreak. Though the premise is fascinating, the book slowly loses its sharp edge and turns into an exhaustive drudgery of facts in its 500-page course.