Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World

Having studied ancient Spartan history in college, I just had to read this book when I found out it was available.

The book is divided into three main sections: the lead-up to the battle, the battle itself, and the view of the battle of Thermopylae from later times.

Interestingly, the middle section on the battle itself is actually quite short. The battle only lasted three days after all, and there isn’t that much to say – the Spartans killed lots of Xerces’s forces, got surrounded and died to a man.

The lead up to the battle is an apology for Herodotus, who is our major source for the Greco-Persian war of 480-479 BC. This was worth reading because Cartledge did include other sources when available, and some of those were enlightening.

Fully a third of the book is an analysis of how future generations viewed the battle – this wasn’t very interesting in general.

I guess I’m glad I read the book, but I’d have enjoyed it more if some of the ending materials had been trimmed.


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