on 21 July 2008
Nick Sekunda's Marathon: 490 BC is a good solid look at the battle that supposedly changed the course of Western history. In this book he analyses the build up to the battle, the political backdrop, the armies of both sides as well as the army commanders themselves, such as Militades and the Persian Commander Datis.
Sekunda also provides a thorough look at the topography of the battlefield. He attempts to reconstruct the Greek and Persian order of battle, and he refutes some of Herodotus's claims in the process.
With the scene set he then proceeds to describe the battle. Along the way he provides a few excellent 3D bird's eye view maps of the battlefield, which shows the tactical positions of the troops as the battle proceeded. Richard Hook also provides 3 colour plates. These show Philippides before the Spartan Ephors, the Athenian charge against the Persian Line and the Athenian Hoplites reaching the Herakleion at Kynosagres. These colour plates are much sharper and detailed than the ones that are usually placed in Osprey's Campaign Series.
The only fault I found with the book is that Sekunda spent too much time analysing the battlefield and less time on the actual battle itself. As with most ancient campaign titles from this series, it seems that the background for the campaign takes up more than half the book's space.
Still, if you want an excellent introductory guide to the Battle of Marathon, then this book is a must. It is short, well illustrated, and well written.
Note: Contains a guide to the Modern battlefield. The book also contains numerous photographs, maps and diagrams.
Well, it certainly doesn't hurt to refresh our memories and read a new description of this legendary events, which we all celebrate at least once every four years watching the Olympic games (I wonder what the Iranian runners must think about the marathon race...). Nicholas Secunda wrote a very good, concise and precise, book about Marathon battle. The story is well written, maps are VERY good, colour plates are not bad, although the only one that actually could be better is the one describing the fight itself... A good Osprey Campaign title, to buy, read and keep for your kids, when they have to make a paper about this battle, which, if it was lost by the Greeks, could have changed the face of the world... Mostly, we, Europeans, would be different today, maybe very different, maybe even Persian speaking... And modern Olympic games (if they existed at all) would be short of one big race...