More than 2,500 years ago, a confederation of small Greek city-states defeated the invading armies of Persia, the most powerful empire in the world. In this meticulously researched study, historian Paul Rahe argues that Sparta was responsible for the initial establishment of the Hellenic defensive coalition and was, in fact, the most essential player in its ultimate victory.
Drawing from an impressive range of ancient sources, including Herodotus and Plutarch, the author veers from the traditional Athenocentric view of the Greco-Persian Wars to examine from a Spartan perspective the grand strategy that halted the Persian juggernaut. Rahe provides a fascinating, detailed picture of life in Sparta circa 480 BC, revealing how the Spartans' form of government and the regimen to which they subjected themselves instilled within them the pride, confidence, discipline, and discernment necessary to forge an alliance that would stand firm against a great empire, driven by religious fervor, that held sway over two-fifths of the human race.
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Excellent Investigation Undermined by Bad Editing
It would be reedited, which would involve rerecording parts of the narration.
For those who enjoy Herodotus, Rahe presents an excellent integration of Herodotus's story with current research into the details of that story based on other accounts of history and archaeological research. Rahe's account is fascinating, if perhaps mis-titled since it struck me that rather than really focusing on a thesis about Sparta's strategy, he was really giving worthy study of Herodotus.
Maybe. The real question with this one is why the final product turned out so bad. At times Pinchot's reading is great. However--and it is a gigantic 'however'--about every 30-120 seconds, there is an awkward pause, followed by a phrase with Greek names (cities, people, etc.) which are then pronounced with an intonation that does not at all fit the rest of the sentence. Whether these terms are mispronounced or have been rerecorded to be properly pronounced according to someone's understanding of correct pronunciation I do not know. I can only note that some of them vary considerably from pronunciation used commonly in some academic circles (but 'correct' with ancient Greek pronunciation is a tricky topic). Regardless, the final result is jarring and often painful to listen to. It has forced me to return this book to audible despite the fact that, were it more polished, it would be joy to listen to Rahe's account at least 2-3 more times.
This much I can say with complete conviction: Whomever gave the final go ahead on releasing this version and selling it to people should be personally very, very ashamed. This goes for everyone on that chain of command, whether it be Pinchot, the producers, the audio editors, or even Rahe himself if he was asked to OK the audio before it was released.
Someone should have the sense of decency to repair this very flawed final product and present the improved version to all who purchased it at no additional cost. (Frankly, anyone who endured the full recording should be recompensed for her trouble.)
Herodotus for today
- james lewis