• Marathon

  • The Battle That Changed Western Civilization
  • By: Richard A. Billows
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Gage
  • Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 10-26-10
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.2 (78 ratings)

Regular price: $24.95

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Publisher's Summary

Published to coincide with Marathon's 2500th anniversary, a riveting history of the historic battle.
The Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. is not only understood as the most decisive event in the struggle between the Greeks and the Persians, but can also be seen as perhaps the most significant moment in our collective history.
10,000 Athenian citizens faced a Persian military force of more than 25,000. A Greek victory appeared impossible, but the men of Athens were tenacious and the Persians were defeated. Following the battle, the Athenian hoplite army ran 26.5 miles from Marathon to Athens to defend their port from the Persian navy. Although they had just run the great distance in heavy armor, the Athenians won the battle and drove the Persian forces from Attica. Greek freedom ensued and the achievements of the culture became much of the basis for Western civilization.
In this comprehensive and engrossing treatment, Richard Billows captures the drama of that day 2500 years ago and the ramifications it has had throughout Western history.
©2010 Thomas A. Billows (P)2010 Audible, Inc
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Critic Reviews

"Acutely sensitive... Billows, taking the long view, sees Marathon as preserving Athenian democracy and thus all that we think of as our classical heritage." (Wall Street Journal)
"The story's a classic: An outnumbered band of Athenians pushes back the mighty Persian army. But the battle of Marathon, 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece, left a legacy that extends far beyond the name of a famous race." (National Public Radio)
"Even if you¹re tough enough to survive the New York City Marathon, you'd probably have little chance to survive the original race in which Greek messenger Pheidippides ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce victory over the Persians. Historian Billows argues that Pheidippides' run, which inspired the modern marathon race, introduced at the Athens Olympic Games of 1896, was a lot more challenging -- a 280-mile round-trip jog to Sparta to ask for aid, with the entire Greek army in tow." (New York Post )
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Aaron on 11-02-10

Effectively evokes the world of ancient greece

While at times difficult to keep up with the barrage of names and places for a casual fan of history like me, especially in the audio format, this book shines in recreating the world in which motivations for the battle of Marathon can be understood for both sides of the conflict. Billow's attention to explaining the origins of both Greek and Persian civilizations and historical run up to the actual conflict make it's significance that much more profound. I was left wishing I could time travel.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful


By Mark Hamilton on 04-25-13

A Generally Very Good Work

Would you listen to Marathon again? Why?

I'm listening to it over and over again. Contrary to what the cover might seem to imply, it's not a *300* type book. Instead, it uses the battle as a lens to understand Athenian, Persian, and, to an extent, Greek culture--about all of which, it explodes misconceptions from hindsight bias. Indeed, to only focus on the battle, especially with as little as we know in detail about it, for the entire book, would make it that type of book that puts people in the hospital if they foolishly had decided to read the whole thing. This is an excellent, readable, insightful work that rewards even re-reading, and I say that as somebody fairly knowledgeable about the ancient world.

What about Jeremy Gage’s performance did you like?

Jeremy Gage is excellent, especially in his descriptions of the battle.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I wouldn't say that this is a moving book, although the descriptions of Athenians hurrying back to guard Athens after their victory at Marathon help you to realize Marathon was not a one-off, day thing as superficial history might have it. Indeed, these descriptions really help you to feel the dramatic tension of that day and night. <br/><br/>It is a book meant to challenge practical assumptions about Marathon, ancient Athens, and the Persians, and therein lies its fascination for me.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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