Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most impressive books I read in quite a while
Lords of the Sea is an outstanding story very well told... by a historian who happens to be a rower. For all lovers of democracy, imperfect as can be, it is a masterful lesson in how it all began, and of how Athens came to be the legendary city we all have heard about, learning along, i.e. how all her magnificent monuments got paid for. Themistocles and his vision of how...
Published on 17 Dec 2011 by Gabriel G. Pavón

versus
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whose feet?
The book I enjoyed, the proofreading though was shocking - some terrible typos (the "Athenian feet" for one), maps that do not even show the places under discussion in the text and several repetitions mark it down to ***.
Published on 9 May 2011 by T. Mantripp


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most impressive books I read in quite a while, 17 Dec 2011
Lords of the Sea is an outstanding story very well told... by a historian who happens to be a rower. For all lovers of democracy, imperfect as can be, it is a masterful lesson in how it all began, and of how Athens came to be the legendary city we all have heard about, learning along, i.e. how all her magnificent monuments got paid for. Themistocles and his vision of how to make a small city great, political power redistribution by sharing oar benches, battles and shipyards, understanding Sea power, or, simply, the sheer number of peole it takes to have a strong navy and its social implications... are all there. As an avid historical reader, I took on this book with marginal interest, having visited again the Aegean this summer, with the major highligth of the trip sailing to Delos. After reading it, I understand quite a few things about ancient Athens and her world MUCH better. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best book I have ever read about ancient history, 10 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A formidable book that definitely deserves a 5 star rating.

In all honesty, this is one of the best books I have read this year and probably one of the best books I have read overall on ancient history. I have been interested to go further on ancient naval warfare after reading book such as "the history of the Peloponnesian war "by Thucydides.

The book is attractive for a couple of reasons:
- Very good technical details are given about the trireme construction, attack tactics, etc.
- The naval battles descriptions are one of the best I found in military history books. The book also has some very good battle plans that help a lot in understanding the naval tactics.
- The book is also very well structured and the chapter division is clear and comprehensive
- Very good 3d sketches showing the trireme, freighters, horse transports, etc.
- Very good portraits throughout the book of the various military leaders and politicians. The Athenian Diaspora of generals to the former enemy Persia or even Sparta and its effect on the internal Athenian politic is well explained

However, the two things that slightly annoyed me were:
- The over-emphasized role of the navy upon Athens's democracy and politics. I think the author went a bit too far but I am no expert on ancient Greek history. The author is.
- The maps are clear and simple but probably too simple. They have very little information and offer no addition to the text.
- If you have knowledge already of the Persian Wars, Themistocles, marathon, etc. Then the first quarter of the book may sound a bit simple and repetitive.

Overall, a very good book that has very few negative reviews and is well worth a buy. It is also easily readable and you will certainly finish it with enthusiasm within few days.

By the way, if someone has come across similar reading in naval warfare, please let me know.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Democracy and hegemony, triremes and the Peloponnesian wars., 1 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a scholarly volume, but you’d never know it. Written in an easy fluid style, more like popular history or even a well-wrought action novel, it fairly flies along at a rate of knots, an ancient galley at full speed. There are one or two very, very minor Classical errors, nothing major. (BTW, my copy is an American edition - with American spelling, etc.)
I was particularly pleased by the clear rationale of the reasons those ancient mariners beached their vessels, keeping them out of the water every bit as much as their fast slender craft were launched on Homer's 'wine-dark' seas. And thus why, for any approaching The 'Iliad' for the first time, the ‘black ships’ at Troy are so described. Dr Hale knows a thing or two about C5thBC construction methods, shipworm and – praise be! – the ship sheds beneath Cape Sounion. Most visitors head for the temple of Poseidon above, to trace Byron’s 1810 putative graffito on one of the marble Doric columns or, if they’re so inclined, for romantic views of flaring sunsets.
Me, I look at ship sheds.
One Harvard graduate has opined the book contains too much re-hashing of history, but this is practically impossible to avoid. The length, breadth and depth of Classical scholarship to date notwithstanding, facts remain facts – you cannot alter facts. Or, at least, you shouldn’t try to. And, honestly, in Classical studies generally it’s not how much we have to base our knowledge on, it’s how little. And, the further back we go, the less there is. Oral histories have been lost, papyrus decays ...
There are far more questions than there are answers.
If you want to read Herodotus and Thucydides, there’s nothing to prevent you doing so. OK, battle catalogues are wearying to the non-military amongst us, but hey! Hale’s narrative is valuable for what it does contribute to an already-crowded field.
(NB: review adapted from opinion posted in my blog)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem for Christmas!, 29 Nov 2011
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This book was first published in October 2010 and, as another reviewer mentioned, it made an excellent Christmas present. It still does this year. The author is an archeologist specialised in underwater searches for ancient warships. His story of the "rise and fall" of the Athenian Navy is outstanding, compelling, fascinating and backed by flawless research (or, more modestly, I should say that I didn't find any!).

Although this is NOT a historical novel, you sometimes have the impression it is, given the way it is written. Another huge plus in favour of this book is that it is written in such a way that you are reading a story rather than digesting the history of one of the first major naval powers. In addition, John Hale manages the rare feat of explaining technicalities, such as the conception of Athenian trirèmes, how they were built to emphasize speed and swiftness, how the favorite Athenian battle tactics made the maximum use of the ships' design, what this implied in terms of training, maintainance and organization and how some of the ships could be adapted and converted into troop or horse transports to carry expeditionary forces overseas.

But, above everything else, and while following a chronological order, the author presents those that, in his mind, were the real "heroes" that, in addition to finance, organization and ship building skills, allowed Athens to "rule the waves" for most of the 5th century and restablish most of their city's dominance through most of the next century: these were the crews (rowers and sailors) that came from the lower classes which could not afford to fight as hoplites and even less as horsemen. While some might find that John Hale tends to "wax lyrical" on these, they -
and the fleet that they manned and which could not exist without them, were clearly the mainstay of Athens democracy. The economic impact of paying for their very valuable services -unlike what some still believe, they were full citizens - integrated them and allowed to effectively participate in Athens' political life. The importance of the ship crews was clearly shown when, during the last years of the Long War against Sparta, the latter managed to challenge Athens at sea thanks to Persian gold which allowed Sparta to outbid Athens by offering higher pay. At this point, however, losses on both sides had been such that a large portion of rowers were hired men (or mercenaries, if you prefer) rather than the poorest citizens of Athens.

The last strong point I want to emphasize is the story of Athens' decline. As the last section of the book makes clear, this started by a "Rebirth" as Athens recovered most (but not all) of its naval supremacy and strived to maintain it after having lost the Pelopenisian War against Sparta and its allies. However, Athens had become much more vulnerable in the long-run. Despite its efforts, it could no longer draw the same level of resources from what had been its "allies" of the First Delian League. In fact, it could no longer stop LIgue members from quitting the Alliance if they saw fit to do so. In additional to financial strains, and as Athens' population had increased considerably since 480, it had had to increasingly import most of its grain from overseas. This was probably one of the main reasons for the expeditions to help Egypt's revolt against the Persian Empire in the early 460s and for the expedition to Sicily between 415 and 413, both of which were disasters. This left Athens having to import most of its grain from the Bosphoros which became its main lifeline.

"The Last Battle", as the last chapter is entitled, tells the story of the Athenian fleet, and its weaknesses, in the revolt against the Macedonians just after the death of Alexander. This was indeed the last battle (in fact, they were at least two, both defeats) and the author clearly explains why. Although Athens would still be dragged into a number of conflicts between Alexander's Successors and would even wage wars of its own against Macedonia, these would essentially take place on land for there was no more a large fleet.

This is fantastic book that I can only urge you to read, once again. If not quite the best book I have read over the last twelve months (and I read a lot), then it is a very close second.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a captivating read, 3 Feb 2011
I bought this as a Christmas present for my husband. It turned out to be his favorite present this year.He started to read it immediately and enjoyed throughout the holidays. He felt it was scholarly and captivating at the same time. The author presented a new perspective to the creation of the Athenian empire.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars living history, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Pc Storm (The Hague, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Lords of the Sea is next to a great insight into the way Athens developed into such an important city in its time, written in such a way that it reads like a novel, catching, exciting and it makes you curious to know what the next epos will bring.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A history with a difference, 5 Jun 2014
By 
J. D. Lowe (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The text is lively and illuminating and an easy read. Apart from the author's sound knowledge of the period his practical experience as an oarsman gives a welcome authority to the text. I look forward to future books by this author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Purchases, 28 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wanted a copy of this book for a while. Purchased at reasonable cost delivered to my door with no fuss or problems allowing me to get on with other things.
If your interested in the subject its a very interesting read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject, 3 Jan 2010
By 
Hale's description of the golden age of Athenian navy is both enthusiatic, well written and has done a fine job on research. The only flaw, in my opinion, is that he overemphasizes the impact of those battles in greek and modern democracy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History Alive, 21 Aug 2012
By 
Terence C. Chilvers (Suffolk, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent account of the time and detailed research brought everything to life in a believable style. Very happy with the purchase
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews