In the fifth century BC, a global superpower was determined to bring truth and order to what it regarded as two terrorist states. The superpower was Persia, incomparably rich in ambition, gold, and men. The terrorist states were Athens and Sparta, eccentric cities in a poor and mountainous backwater: Greece. The story of how their citizens took on the Great King of Persia, and thereby saved not only themselves, but Western civilization as well, is as heart-stopping and fateful as any episode in history. Tom Holland's brilliant study of these critical Persian Wars skillfully examines a conflict of critical importance to both ancient and modern history.
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Eat meets West, what could go wrong?
The information, the prose, and the narration.
The realization that Athens' democracy was less than 20 years old at the time of Marathon. And that if it had been an aristocracy at the time of the Great Kings invasion, they very well may have sold out, like all of northern Greece in order to retain their positions of privilege. And while Athens did not repel the Persians alone, principally the Spartans, its hard to see how the Spartans alone could have been successful, without Athens political adroitness and strategic forethought. The great kind and his successors were just outclassed; it was obvious the Persians had never run up against anything like the Hellenic civilization. It sure didn't seem like much on papyrus!
Hard to say how much was Page's performance or how much was the sheer power of the prose--he certainly didn't detract and the narrative was fascinating that any competent narrator would have loved to perform.
I think it was more open mouthed dumb foundedness. I was familiar with all the events and the general chronology of the time, but this book put all the events into context. It was more than just a military history, in fact the battles just got a bare narrative, but more a social, political and economic tour-de-force of the times both Greek and Persian.
Yeah, this is a book I will re-listen too in the near future partly to make sure I didn't miss anything (I'm sure I did) and to wallow in the sheer pleasure of the story. I also plan on purchasing a hard copy just for the maps and the bibliography--the one great drawback of "listening" to history or any non-fiction.
- Dennis Jameson "Blue Tinder"
Narrative fictional-history at its best.
- Larry Block