Karen Armstrong’s latest book is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece. It is amazing how she manages to summarise and explain such complex religious and cultural movements with clarity. And this is certainly the clearest exposition of the development of Hinduism and classical Greek religion I have read. She sequences motifs and ideas so that you understand them in a new way and things you thought you knew fall into place, a bit like when you realise that areas in a city are closer together when you walk or drive a new route – this happens to me all the time in London. So… read it.

And for a fictional version, Gore Vidal’s Creation is also excellent, though somewhat flippant by comparison.

The Wikipedia article on Armstrong can be found here, but it’s not great.