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4.4 out of 5 stars123
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 27 April 2013
Written in a very light way, neverthless we learn a lot with it. In fact most of it is not about the persian but about their foes, the greeks, and their mortal confrontation.
Worth to read.
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on 26 March 2016
Absolutely riveting. The stuff of legends comes to life from Holland's scholarly, yet flowing and engaging writing style. A hugely enjoyable book, the only regret is that it was not any longer.
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on 30 June 2010
I bought this book because I had been impressed by Tom Holland's previous book Rubicon, and I have to say it is as easily read as that book. It is a tale well told, or at least well enough. I also have to say that it reads like just Herodatus translated and jazzed up. As a result of the latter process, the book probably contains a record number of clichés - ranging from tabloid headlines (shock and awe, terrorist states, etc ad nauseam) to (unacknowledged) quotes or reminiscences of Shakespeare, Milton, etc, not excepting the Bible and a few (unreferenced) classical authors. There is a surprising array of ordinary, everyday clichés too. This made the book a bit tedious at times, and made me suspect it was lazily put together. Some of the notes refer to authors, or books, not mentioned in the bibliography. I am not a scholar, but I sometimes like to follow up interesting leads. Still, this is perhaps being a mite too serious - the story courses along, and the narrative tries to balance the Greeks and the Persian perspectives. The battle narratives are brisk, which I think I like, as I find it hard to visualise complex manoeuvers sometimes. The background on Persians and Medes is new to me, and he integrates asides on Greek life very smoothly with the narrative. It is just so much poorer than the previous one. I have also bought his Millenium, but am now no longer in such a hurry to read it.
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on 29 October 2013
This is a somewhat disjointed book, which starts well before wandering off to discuss Sparta and Athens in great detail without linking the chapters back to the main theme. A case of the author telling you everything he knows about a subject, rather than what the reader needs to know. That said Mr Holland draws the reader back with the later chapters, although some of his text is a bit verbose. On the whole a worthwhile read.
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on 30 December 2007
I was very excited about this book and was quick to start reading it but to be honest I was pretty dissapointed.

I have previously read Hollands' book Rubicon in which Holland drew on historical parallels (sometimes quite brilliantly) to explain how the political world currently functions. Excuses for starting wars, unholy alliances, territorial ambitions, all rooted in the crazy world of Bush and Blair.

He attempts to do something along the same line in this book but a lot less successfully. Holland explains how the delineations between east and west were actually defined, how our currents notions of oriental barbarism, indulgence and excess are rooted in the propaganda of that era. The problem is he doesn't have much balanced material to go on because all our sources of reference are drawn from westerners like Herodotus, hence the anti-Asiatic slant in the first place.

The book is great for someone who maybe wants an insight into the era. I wouldn't personally reccomend it to someone looking to study the topic or someone who knows nothing at all as it will leave you instilled with a pretty biased view.

Overall the book is well written but biased in its nature therefore keep this in mind when reading it as the persians do not get a fair write up at all. You will learn much from it otherwise however as long as you keep this in mind.
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on 2 April 2010
Well put together and with repeated listening the true heroic story and facts can sink into the brain. These CDs are constantly playing for six months now.
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on 11 April 2010
Tom Holland tells a good story and all his books are a compelling read with lots of good research and historical details. This one is no different.
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on 24 April 2016
This a great book for bible students. It gives a background to the Persian Empire.It is exciting and easy to read. Recommended good read.
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on 19 July 2011
Fascinating and pacey account of an era which which hugely influenced the evolution of politics and nations to the present day.
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on 3 January 2016
Such an interesting and evocative period to read about. Tom Holland's writing is fantastic. This book is one of my favourites.
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