The Greeks at War: From Athens to Alexander (Essential Histories Specials) Paperback – 20 Aug 2004
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About the Author
Dr Philip de Souza FRHistS is the author of numerous articles and essays on Greek and Roman history, and Lecturer in Classics at University College Dublin. Waldemar Heckel is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Calgary. He has written numerous articles on the history of Alexander the Great. Victor Davis Hanson is a Professor of Classics at California State University, Fresno, a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and is author of some 16 books on Greek and military history. He is currently a columnist for National Review Online, Dr Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University. He works and publishes on Greek socio-cultural history, particularly the reception of antiquity in the arts and modern popular culture. He has recently worked as a historical advisor on Oliver Stone's movie "Alexander".
Top customer reviews
The text reads very easily, which is impressive given the complexity of the period. There is also very little repetition of earlier events in the three books. The only area that shows lack of editing is the spelling of Greek names. Both authors use different techniques. A minor point, but I would have thought by now Osprey would have a standard policy on the use of names (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc) in all their works.
There are only two real complaints:
No decent maps. Osprey have always published in the smaller format and a set number of pages, but they never seem to go in for maps to any extent. There are two maps of Alexanders' campaigns, but they don't have a great deal of detail. The general route of the campaigns is noted, as are major battle sites and some place manes, but few of the cities and many regions mentioned in the text are mentioned in the maps. Similarly, there are often no maps relating to the places mentioned in the Peloponnesian War. While there are maps of Greece, again they focus on the overall picture without mentioning many of the places in the text. I would prefer to pay a little more and have a few more detailed maps. In particular I would like to see an overall 'theatre of war' map, plus three or four more detailed maps that focus on regions of the campaigns in particular. But, to read any Osprey books it is best to have a volume with some decent maps to hand. Modern city names are often added in brackets in the tex, so even a modern atlas would be of some help.
The second issue is the photographs. For the first two books, there are plenty of shots of military equipment and the all-pervasive Greek figure vases. I find them good to look at and yes, they are informative and link in to the text easily. But when it comes to Alexander, there are a series of paintings from the 1650-1800 period, depicting scenes from the conquests of Alexander. I know from other works that there are plenty of archaeological finds from the later Greek period, there are many statues of Alexander, and there are even some good shots of the sites where the battles took place. So why are there three lines of text squeezed in below a full colour painting of Babylon's surrender to Alexander, painted about 1700?
Overall, these works are well worth the money. Of course, they are only introductory works, but make a good addition to any historians' library.
First of all, in the 'contents' page the first section (on the Persian wars) is given the unusual dates of 449-386BC, whereas the chapter refers to events from 499-480! Secondly: throughout the book there are illustrations, which appear in the first section, of items which then reappear in the second section in different photographs, so for example there's a rather dramatic black-and-white picture on p.24 of a Corinthian helmet which then reappears in glorious colour on p.130. Similarly, the Hellenic Navy's reconstructed trireme is given two chances to amaze the reader.
Not that these editorial oversights detract at all from the quality of the prose, which is very concise and useful but sadly devoid of references & so recommended as an introduction for undergraduates and as a guide for enthusiasts.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Due to the short length of each of the books contained therein (about 90 pages of which half illustration), a potential reader should not expect to obtain an in-depth analysis or history of each of the topics but instead only a very succinct overview. In this the three chapters due succeed. In about 3-4 hours of reading the reader gets an idea regarding the historical contexts the wars occurred in. The powers discussed, leaders, armed forces are briefly discussed as well as how the wars drew themselves out and finally, what the consequences of the wars were (with respect to the last all 3 chapters are quite weak). Considering the length of the wars, for example the Peloponnesian War lasted 27 years, this is no small feat. In addition, the book is well illustrated with both strategic and tactical maps as well as photos and illustrations based on contemporary statues, coins, etc. showing troops and their armaments, leaders, etc.
All and all a fairly good introduction to these wars for those who have only about 4 hours to get up to speed.
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