Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Battle of Thermopylae by In60Learning – Book Review

Ancient Greece was hardly the Hellenic Republic that we know today. It was a collection of warring city-states and a few dominant kingdoms. However, they occasionally came together against a common enemy, and one such occasion was during the Greco-Persian wars in 400s BC. The Battle of Thermopylae was critical as the passage through the narrow tract of land would have given Persians the access to the Greek mainland. Legend has it that a meagre 300 Spartans defended the pass for long enough leading to an eventual victory for the Greeks in the war. This is a short retelling of the event from In60Learning.

The book starts off describing the societal structure Sparta, the role of soldiers, the roles of men and women, the views of King Leonidas I and their relationship with Athens. The book then talks about the battle strategies of Greece, such as the hoplite formations, known as phalanx. The book then moves on to Xerxes I’s own ambitions of taking over Greece, carrying forward the vision of his father Darius. After setting the background, the book moves into describing the battle.

What I liked was firstly, they book kept the promise of providing learning within sixty minutes, the events were well covered in a matter of around 35 pages. I also liked it as to how the author cited a variety of sources and also conceded that most sources available was Greek. As a result, the author issued a prior disclaimer on portrayals of Persians as Barbarians, Xerxes as a mad man, etc. since all these are from Greek sources.

One aspect that could have been done better is that most average readers manage to read around 50 pages in a span of one hour. The author did very well to establish the background to The Battle of Thermopylae but then, the book by itself is only 35 pages and the description of the actual battle started only 19 pages in, which means that was for less than half the book. The description of the battle could have been made slightly longer.

It is a well-structured book and is certainly worth a read for history enthusiasts. On that note, I would award the book a rating of seven on ten.

Rating – 7/10

Have a nice day,

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