Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Introduction to this Legendary Battle, 25 July 2008
This review is from: Thermopylae 480 BC: Last Stand of the 300 (Campaign): Leonidas' Last Stand (Paperback)
In this short book, Nic Fields presents us with a look at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, the battle that delayed the Persian army and saved Greece.
Yet, there is more to this book than simply a description of this famous event. Fields covers the 'before, during, and after' stages of the battle, explaining to the reader the origins of the campaign as well as its conclusion with the defeat of Mardonios's army at Plataea in 479 BC.

He presents us with short biographies of the commanders of both sides, covering Leonidas of Sparta and the Great Persian king, Xerxes. He also explains to the reader the equipment and fighting techniques of the Greek and Persian armies, explaining how they differed and how this would ultimately be the deciding factor of the campaign.

With the background explained, as well as the Greek and Persian plans layed out, Fields then details the events of the battle. He is assisted by three wonderful 3D bird's eye-view maps that cover the differnt stages of the battle. These aren't as detailed as some of the maps contained in other Osprey Campaign titles, but that's more to do with the lack of notable sites on the battle terrain. Steve Noon provides three terrific colour plates, showing the Persian scout spying on the Spartans at rest while the other two plates show the Greeks and Persians in battle. These are generally very good, and the detail is crisp rather than the typically muddy illustrations that are usually thrown together for Osprey Campaign titles.

With plenty of maps, photographs of the modern battlefield and archaeological finds, as well as diagrams and a bibliography, this book should be the standard introduction to this legendary battle. That said, it shouldn't be the only book you read on the subject as there are other more in-depth and scholarly works available. If it had one fault, it is that only a few pages of the book actually cover the battle, but I suppose this is because of the lack of written sources beyond Herodotus's account.

I have to say that I found this book an eye opener. It dismisses some of the more bombastic statements made about the battle, explaining that it was far more than 300 Spartans who made tha last stand, as their helot servants, the Thespian Hoplites and the Thebans were all there with Leonidas on the last day as Xerxes troops surrounded them, even if the Thebans did surrender.

A good introductory title.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Sep 2008 22:01:15 BDT
Plataea was in 479BC - you are counting down!!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2008 19:10:29 BDT
F. Aetius says:
Yes you are right, thank you for pointing that out. I'll change it as quickly as possible!
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