Part of the fascination of this book lies simply with reading one of the oldest surviving stories that goes back to the very beginning of civilization. I got these dates and comments regarding some of the earliest surviving written works from the Wiki: 800 BCE Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey 1440-1400 BCE Hebrew Torah, also called the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses with a final redaction between 900-450 BC. Some give an alternate date of 1320-1280. [And others think the Bible is much younger--dating from the time of the Babylonian Exile circa 600 BC] 1550 BCE Egyptian Book of the Dead 1700-1100 BCE Approximate date of the composition of the Hindu Veda Rigveda in Sanskrit. 1780 BCE Akkadian Code of Hammurabi stele 1900 Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh 2250-2000 BCE Sumerian Earliest stories in the Epic of Gilgamesh. This, folks, is a work older than the Bible by a thousand years--and has a global flood story complete with ark. Compared to the The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer is a green newcomer: Gilgamesh is a millennium and a half older. Only a few surviving Egyptian and Sumerian texts are older. And amazingly, this isn't just one of the oldest works of literature, but a great work of literature. Timeless in the way it speaks of grief and friendship and mortality. It's incredible this work was lost for so many centuries and only gained a wide audience after World War II. The poem itself is a short work, only taking up about 60 pages of the paperback book. The Penguin edition I have translated by Sandars has a fascinating account of their rediscovery.