From Publishers Weekly
A classical scholar displays formidable scholarship and dense prose in this history of combat in the classical world from the Illiad to the fall of Rome. Because of the comparatively static technology-there was less change in weaponry, Lendon argues, during the whole period than between 1910 and 1940-the individual heroism depicted in the Illiad casts a very long shadow. When the Greeks invented the phalanx, the competition shifted its basis: now individuals competed to see who held his place in the formation best, and whole phalanxes competed to see which one presented the most solid wall of spear points. In other highlights along this difficult journey, we find the Romans also had a tradition, whether Homeric in origin or not, of the individual commander engaging his opposite and stripping him of his armor as a trophy, which led to the future Emperor Titus performing heroic feats of arms in the siege of Jerusalem. The varying arrangements of cohorts (about three times the size of a maniple) involved makes the plethora of illustrations here essential. Witty, erudite and painstaking , this book rewards the serious reader who marches (in whatever formation) to the end.
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"fast-paced, cunningly constructed and supplied with an eerie final twist... deserves to be read far beyond the confines of university classics departments, because its theme is a universal one: the impulse that drives men to go to war." Sunday Telegraph "Soldiers and Ghosts is one of those rare books that powerfully challenges received opinion and demands attention. At the same time, it is a wonderful read that should hold appeal for any layman with an interest in the Greeks and Romans or simply in the history of warfare." Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War "In a wide-ranging account that much impressed the judges of the History Today/Longman Book Prize, Jon Lendon provides an arresting study of war and battle in classical antiquity." Jeremy Black, History Today "An excellent starting point for readers interested in the military histories of Greece and Rome." Nicholas E. Efstathiou, Military History "Brilliantly analyzed." William Grimes, New York Times"