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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insight into Ancient Middle East, 21 Nov 2006
Robin Waterfield has managed to do something which sounds so simple yet is apparently so difficult - to say all the things that Xenophon left unsaid because he assumed that his readers would know it already. The tribulations of 10,000 Greek mercenaries retreating from their defeat in Syria through hostile territory back to the familiar lands of the Black Sea coast has inspired generation after generation for good reason - it's a gripping adventure, full of human interest, triumphs, disasters, stupidity and cunning.

Though Waterfield has (I feel) been let down by his publishers - a book of this stature deserves better than the blurred black & white photos and dreadful dust jacket, the content more than makes up for it.

A must (& a perfect Christmas present) for everyone interested in military history, classical civilisation, ancient history, psychology, politics...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read on the 10,000, 28 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age (Paperback)
Xenophon has often suffered in academia from being sometimes difficult to categorise, whilst many academics are often uncomfortable in handling the issues that Xenophon's presence in his own works means for historiography. Luckily for Xenophon, Robin Waterfield is an engaging historian, who has produced an excellent refresher and discussion of Xenophon and the 10,000.
Waterfield's book is broadly chronological providing some back ground to the 10,000 before following their campaign and their march to the sea, through to their involvement with Agesilaus and some notes on Xenophon's later life. The work is more that a summary of Xenophon's account and works hard to evaluate evidence and handle the difficult issue of chronology while providing additional salient details to the account. Alongside these efforts are some worthwhile digressions into general themes of Greek History. The account is easy to read and Waterfield's insights are well received, especially in his concluding chapter when he looks at how the 10,000 have been reinterpreted over history and the impact of the 10,000 on Pan-Hellenic ideology.
There are a couple of minor gripes with the book. The first is that Waterfield often tries to make a distinction between the Fifth and Fourth Century, this is a difficult dichotomy to sustain, given that the Greeks didn't view the time period as the fourth and fifth century themselves and that really he should be talking about a pre-Peloponnesian War and post-Peloponnesian War environment when he is referring to Athens. On a wider scale a lot of recent works are less happy with attempts to make too severe a distinction between the Fifth and Fourth Century in Greece identifying a lot of areas of continuity between the two periods. The second gripe is the digressions that Waterfield makes regarding political structures, he is very critical of Xenophon's pro-oligarchic/pro-monarchic sentiments. It is a shame, because Waterfield develops an excellent argument early on the book about how warfare led to status for individual cities, I would have liked to see him to develop this argument to see that by the Peloponnesian War this also came to apply to the constitutions if cities - I would have liked him to have then used this to review Xenophon's position, that as democracy had lost the war, its status had fallen below Oligarchy to people like Xenophon, hence his apathy towards it. I certainly would have liked Waterfield to be more sympathetic to Xenophon's politics. My other thoughts on this are more generally linked to people's attitude to Athenian democracy, whilst it did set many precedents and is worthy of praise, it is not the same as modern democracy and especially in the Peloponnesian War responsible for its fair share atrocity.
However the above observations aside, this is an excellent and entertaining read and is a really worthwhile addition to anyone's bookshelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless History, 4 Feb 2010
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A. Xiradakis - See all my reviews
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Another excellent book by Robin Waterfield in accessible language on the timeless subject of ancient Greek history. The historical events in Xenophon's Retreat are fascinating and didactic. I believe Hollywood is on the case making a movie on the subject.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting read, 2 Jan 2007
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Simon A. Wright "simonandsuewright" (manchester;england) - See all my reviews
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Enjoyed this book thoroughly.I agree with a previous reviewer that the photographs are a little disappointing-was there no colour film avaiable.I learnt much more about the context of the 10,000 than of the actual anabasis but that of course is useful in itself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills in all the gaps left out by Xenophon's Persian Expedition (Anabasis)!, 23 Feb 2010
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A. Gabai (all over) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age (Paperback)
This is a truly excellent read. It is nicely written and flows smoothly. Very well researched, it has plenty of information.

It explains everything that was left out by Xenophon. Things such as the socio-economic situations of Greece and the Persian Empire at the time. The local customs from each locality they visited as well as a more detailed look into local climatic conditions and terrain features. The reason for excess in availability of mercenaries, their integration into armies and the structure itself of armies (including payment systems). And many more.

I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent compliment to Xenophon's Persian Expedition (Anabasis).

I still recommend reading The Persian Expedition (Penguin Classics) FIRST, the English translation reads easily and considering it was a text written almost 2500 years ago, it flows smoothly and is a pretty exciting read PLUS it is not merely "based" on real events, the author was ACTUALLY present for all those events. So read that, and then read Robin Waterford's Xenophon's Retreat. Both these books are a must for ancient history buffs (like myself I suppose).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 20 Jun 2012
This review is from: Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age (Paperback)
Enjoyable book confirmed by many reviews.

Accessible for anybody not fully switched on history. Rightly pointed out on previous reviews: A bit more editing would have been required: colour photographs, better maps, etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Sep 2014
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Eric Mckelvie "Mareng" (Dundee Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age (Paperback)
well written and interesting
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillient book, 24 Jun 2009
This review is from: Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age (Paperback)
I thought this book was brillient - an enjoyable yet interesting read. It was easy enough to read yet also was academically intriguing. I was particularly impressed by the maps and other pictures in the book.
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Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age
Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia and the end of the Golden Age by Robin Waterfield (Paperback - 6 Sep 2007)
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