The Lost Army Hardcover – Unabridged, 3 Oct 2008
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Abira is a beautiful, young village girl, who is literally swept off her feet by the soldier scout and army chronologist Xeno. She knows he is her ticket out of the Village of the Belt where she could marry a boy chosen by her family & remember with regret this stranger or she could seize her chance ...
So how does this girl cover thousands of kilometres with the Red Cloaks, across extreme terrains, become a pivotal part in this herd of soldiers return only to be stoned & left of dead?
I was given this book as a gift & what an enlightening gift this proved to be. For whatever reason, historic tales have never featured much in my reading lists - however this book may change that! In my naivety, I didn't realise this was story grounded in real events, it matches any Hollywood sword and scandal epic & makes the story all the more enthralling.
Take this book away with you on holiday if you`re crossing difficult terrains or need to immerse yourself in a different battle from your daily commute and let its pace engulf you.
Ultimately the straggling army reached the shores of the Black (Euxine) Sea, hailing it in a famed shout of joy: 'thalatta, thalatta' (the sea, the sea!), where they erected a trophy monument to their achievement. However, if you want to know the 'real' Xenophon, go to the original 'Anabasis': apart from the surprisingly easy-to-read original Greek for classics students, there are several excellent translations on the market.
Dr. Valerio Massimo Manfredi, a very eminent Italian historian and the Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Bocconi and the author of some dozen or so very successful historical novels, several of which have been used as the basis for screenplays.
THE LOST ARMY was first published in English in 2008 although it had previously been a best seller in Italy under the title `L'Armata Perduta in 2007 and I originally read the original Italian version that year. My Italian really is not that good, but I struggled through with lessons from my wife, and enjoyed the story and so resolved to obtain the English edition when it was published.
The story follows the fortunes of the Greek mercenaries of Xenophon's Ten Thousand, the famed 'Anabasis' to the shores of the Black Sea, as witnessed by a young female camp follower. The tale is good one, but is a bit like the march through hilly country, with ups and downs in the storytelling, and the whole book is rather poorly translated into English, the dialogue in particular being a bit stilted.
I am a great fan of Dr. Manfredi but this English translation is not up to his expected standard, a bit of a bumpy ride for the reader, although the usual highly researched and meticulously accurate historical background gives a fascinating window into a rarely touched upon subject.
I have just re-read this book and I may revisit the original version again, my Italian may have improved marginally and I feel that I enjoyed it more than the English translation.
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