Here's a rather nasty mediation on politics and history, Barry Unsworth's Song of Kings. Th e book is set in an early section of the Illiad, where Agamemnon is preparing to attack Troy, but is being pressed to sacrifice his daughter in order to ensure victory. If you've read the Illiad you know what happens, but the book is more about the portrait of political actors trying to influence policy. Odysseus is the slippery Satanic villain, poisoining some and brutalizing others. The dialogue is modern with terms like collateral damage. While this may annoy some, it is appropriate. The book isn't really about ancient Greece, but how politicians (and people in general) of all times manipulate others and shape perceptions to get what they want. This is an excellent read, short, funny and topical.