44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
History of Sparta,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Spartans: An Epic History (Paperback)
An interesting book on the history of Sparta and its role in ancient Greek history. It's not too scholarly, and not too populist, but rather maintains a balance that allows the author to discuss the subject in some depth without baffling the casual reader.
Much of the book is made up of biographies of leading Spartans inserted into gaps in the main body of the text. Although it's good to have a couple of pages to summarise the lives and careers of the main figures in Spartan history, these asides tend to repeat the information in the main text, and in some cases can damage the sense of chronological flow. I think these would have been far better placed in an appendix.
Also, the author wanders off into a study of the parallels between ancient greek hunting and modern fox hunting at the end of the book, debunking the myths that link present day hunting with that of the ancient past. For those of us that aren't passionate about this issue (as the author clearly is), this is a rather anticlimactic ending to a good book. It doesn't teach us anything more about the Spartans than has already been covered, and is really a debate for another place.
However, these two points aside, this is a thoroughly engaging book for anyone with an interest in ancient history. It's well written, accessible and gives a real insight into the way that Spartan society functioned. Perhaps the social relationaships between the Spartans and the Helots could have been explored more than it was, but the main interest for most readers is undoubtedly the military contribution to history made by Sparta, which is very well covered.