I rarely read two books in a row by the same author, since I don't want to burn out on his/her voice and grow bored with someone I previously found entertaining. But I made an exception for Thomas Cahill by following Mysteries of the Middle Ages with 2003's Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter. I was in the mood for more nonfiction, but not a hyper-detailed research tome, and it was the only one of my Christmas books that fit the bill.
Over the course of seven chapters, Cahill explores Greek ideas on war, politics, philosophy, art, etc. and then briefly discusses how those ideas came down to us, filtered through the Romans and shaped by Jewish values (Christianity being sort of a Greco-Roman-Jewish fusion with assorted pagan accretions from the societies it's passed through since its birth--none of which, should my mother happen to be reading this, means I don't believe it anymore). It's a good read, though relatively little of it was new to me. It did give me a better since of the chronology of Greek art relative to Greek power--the visual arts developed greater realism after Athens lost its political power and empire.
And because Cahill is Cahill, he draws some parallels to modern issues and events. (He really, REALLY, doesn't like Bush....)