Nail-biting account of how a defeated army of Greek mercenaries, stranded deep in enemy territory, battled their way home through Persia and Kurdistan. Xenophon's account may be somewhat self-serving (and disconcertingly, he writes about himself in third person), but it's still plenty gripping. It's impossible not to cheer as the Greeks, lost and exhausted, top their umpteenth mountain crest and finally catch a glimpse of their salvation: "The sea! The sea!". Xenophon is your basic military man, so he pretty much cuts to the chase. Rivers are to be forded, women are to be seized, and he doesn't have much time for poetical asides. Nevertheless he's a sharp observer of human character, in a practical sort of way; this is no dry historical document. The always surprisingly modern outlook of the Greeks comes through in every line, and passages of Xenophon's pep-talks could be taken out a management handbook: "... there will be a great rise in their spirits if one can change the way they think, so that instead of having in their heads the one idea of "What is going to happen to me?", they may think "What action am I going to take?"." The Penguin translation is clear and servicable, although the introduction is actually more difficult to follow than the story itself.
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