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Sparta at War: Strategy, Tactics and Campaigns Hardcover – 17 Mar 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Frontline Books; First Edition edition (17 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848325304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848325302
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Scott Rusch studied Greek and Roman history at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Ph.D. in 1997. Reflecting his lifelong interest in military history, he examined in his dissertation Greek military operations during the Peloponnesian War, a valuable preparation for this work. He has written on ancient military history for many publications.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this does not seem to have been the author's intention, this book is an excellent introduction and overview of Sparta. In slightly more than 200 pages and plenty of well drawn maps and shematics for Sparta's major battles, Scott Rush has produced a very good summary of Sparta's military history. Although the book contains the date 550-362 BC, it also presents what happened before and after.

In fact, and to a large extent, this book is also a summary of the main conflicts over a period of about 200 years. Unsurprisingly, 2 and 3 chapters are devoted to, respectively, the War aganist the Persians and the Great War (or the war against Athens, as the Spartans called it with the Athenians calling it the war against the Peloponesians). I particularly enjoyed the last four chapters from 404 to 362 BC, the period of domination and Fall, simply because it is usually less well known and less studied. There are some very interesting developments on Theban tactics and their impact on Sparta. The limits to Sparta's power and the importance of Messenia are also clearly shown, but the importance of Argos as the secular rival is also emphasized while the other cities could be either (more or less voluntary) allies or adversaries, depending on their interests.

One limit of this book is that the discussion on "oliganthropia", its causes and its effects on Spartan armies are a bit on the "light side". Since this is one of the key reasons for Sparta's ultimate demise, this is proably a weak point. To learn more on this, read Cartledge's book (and "Agesilaus and the Crisis of parta", in particular).

Another limit of this book is perhaps that it is mostly focused on campaigns, battles and tactics, with the larger picture (diplomatic ties, politics etc...) being less developed.
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Format: Hardcover
Sparta was a city state and, as such, the dominant military power in ancient Greece for almost 200 hundred years. Remarkably, for such a small state, the Spartans produced a political and social structure which provided a seemingly invincible military elite with many of their conquests passing into a mixture of ancient history and local folklore with the latter becoming more and more embellished as each story was handed down through countless generations.

Dr Scott M. Rusch’s impressive list of credits inform the reader that he is eminently qualified to provide those with an interest in ancient Sparta with a realistic and trustworthy description of the history of that particular part of the world at that time. In reality he produces a most interesting and readable account which destroys many myths and explains much that some might think they already knew. Commencing with Sparta’s development as city circa 950 BC through to her eventual defeat by Thebes in 369 BC and her attempts to regain power afterwards, this work is destined to become regarded as the definitive work on the subject.

Only after Thebes had learned the secret of beating the Army of Sparta were they finally defeated. Prior to that, the Spartans had won no fewer than 10 major land battles and became most famous of all for the heroic stand of the three hundred men at Thermopylae.

Using no other tool except the requirement for meticulous research and checking (double and treble checking!) every single fact relating to the period, Rusch has successfully separated fact from popular fiction and produced a work which is hard to put down once you commence reading.

As someone who thought he knew nothing whatsoever of the period under the microscope, on several occasions I found myself saying – “so that’s what really happened.”

Altogether an excellent work, a triumph of dedicated research and a darned good read.

NM
British army major (retired)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Along with Cartledge, this is the best contemporary research history of the Spartans and their place in ancient warfare. Assigned to my MA military history students.
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