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BOOK REVIEW: The Wars of the Ancient Greeks

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, January 13, 2020

The Wars of the Ancient Greeks

By Victor Davis Hanson

This book, another in the excellent Cassell History of Warfare series, covers Greek Wars from the earliest days (1400 BC) through the end of the Macedonian "era" (roughly when Rome conquered Greece or about 146 BC). In between comes the transition from hero-led skirmishes to the rise of city-state militia to the establishment of professional armies to the Greek conquest of Persia.

All of this is well laid out by Hanson. And for roughly 3/4 of the book, I enjoyed the overviews of fighting styles, strategies, tactics, and so on. However, when it came to Alexander the Great, Hanson has a mighty big axe to grind and leads me to my nit to pick.

The other books in the series present well-balanced portraits of the particular era's personalities. Hanson deviates wildly by serving up invective against Alex, pounding away to color him a bloodthirsty savage. While there certainly is truth to the portrayal, and Hanson can mention it, the aftertaste of unabashed finger pointing leaves me wanting to wash up, and I suppose, brush my teeth. Such analysis would make a wonderful revisionist stand-along work, but in an overview-style book, it quickly becomes annoying.

Other than that caveat, which slightly lowers enthusiasm, this book is another fine example of Cassell at work.

Tags:  Ancient 

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