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Storm of Spears Hardcover – November 1, 2011


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Hardcover, November 1, 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848842953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848842953
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.3 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,445,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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I'm annoyed...truly annoyed.
Anibal Madeira
It's written well enough for casual readers, but with the substance I expect from a proper academic book.
Amazon Customer
Great for anyone interested in the historical fiction genre as well as the history of warfare.
stickenmove

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Anibal Madeira on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm annoyed...truly annoyed. I read dozens of works on ancient Greek warfare, studied more than a hundred academic journals. And Dr Christopher Mathew's, from the Australian outback's, makes this magnificent doctoral thesis and so many things I took for granted are just...squashed. Dr. Mathew...I want my wasted time back.

For any serious student or scholar of ancient warfare, this book is truly essential, and I'm pretty sure it will turn out to be one of the most quoted (the book and the academic thesis) about hoplite warfare in future years.

The main battle of the author, and most of the book is dedicated to it, is to understand and revaluate the hoplite fighting stance and he completely convinces me that the "overhead" spear fighting isn't correct at all; the underarm thrust is also frequently depicted in art, it has all physics on their side, it's more comfortable; it is possible to easily low spears and go from marching to fighting position and most importantly, respects all the classical sources information about hoplite warfare. He also shows how the arm can extend further and with more power than using "overhead" thrusts. Analyses that armor battle damage don't show descending attacks, but mostly frontal. The author also shows the impossibility or immense difficulty of changing stances (from overhead to low) in a phalanx, and that in a safe environment (in a battle it would be much more difficult). Among many, many other reasons the author states convincingly, using archeology, physics, ancient sources and analyzing most contemporary scholars opinions and conclusions with extreme care and academic thoroughness.

Also in this masterpiece you will find valuable information on formations and the othismos.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Diaz on March 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While strident, the author brings two attributes to his arguments that many academics lack: Practical experience as a former soldier (and thus a soldier's mindset) and a willingness to physically recreate hoplite equipment and see how it best works. While I don't agree with all his conclusions, as a reenactor and former Marine infantryman (who's shaken his head at historian' s conventional wisdom more than once after practical experience) I can appreciate his methodology. I for shake my head at still oft-repeated facts that, somehow, a bronze cuirass only 1mm thick weighed over 60ins; not likely. Worse, many books state the 1mm average armor thickness...then give that weight. And even if the gear weighed in at 60+ibs, they ignore that folks like me, at 5'9" routinely carry 90ins of non-breathing body armor, ammo, water, weapons etc, far less well distributed and patrol, fight, crawl, climb walls, run etc...for hours on end. It's normal. It's the average weight of gear soldiers have carried and fought under for centuries!
Thus I can buy the bulk of his thesis, more so when (such as when covering tactics) the author, unlike many, proposes that there likely more than one way to fight and these multiple ways were used. To many academics take all or nothing stands on such nuanced subjects as tactics and techniques.
Dry, but if you want a near complete primer on the subject as you'll ever see, buy it. If nothing else, many solid questions are asked that need a deeper look. Such living archaeology and reenactment methods have radically changed our views on Medieval European warfare, such could happen here!

MOD
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cody Beaton on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked up the book a week or so ago and am still in the process of reading it. The primary, if only, complaint I can air is that it's a rather dry read - very scientific and analytic, not quite as riveting as Victor Davis Hanson's Western way of war or J.E. Lendon's Soldiers & Ghosts. What Storm of Spears is, however, is the most exhaustive and thorough approach to hoplite warfare (with a focus on the spear) I have encountered in my years of voracious interest in military antiquity history. Beyond just analyzing the period sources a strong emphasis is placed on physical experimenting with hoplite panoply. I went into the book a believer in the literal othismos and primarily/exclusive use of overhand spears. Now I am much more amenable to the author's thesis regarding the predominance of the underhand spear and fluidity between a literal and figurative othismos.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Richardson on January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a interesting read. It provides the mechanics of Hoplite battle formation. It is overly dry and not for a light reader. But if technical specs interest you, this book will to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph L. Behringer on May 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being able to understand and see, at least mentally, what it actually was like to perform and be in a Ancient Greek phalanx was exciting and important to someone who is fanatic about Ancient history. Warfare decided history back then and the Ancient Greeks set the standard for that moment in time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Marte on September 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Classical scholars have been battling for generations over how the ancient Greek hoplites fought. Christopher Matthew does an incredible job of analyzing hoplite's weaponry, armor, stance, spacing and attack methods to provide fresh insights on the debate and provide some startling new conclusions.

For instance, how did the hoplite wield his spear, using the overhead thrust, underarm thrust or underhand attack position? According to the author, by studying these various attack methods using ancient Greek re-enactors, he claims it would have been impossible for the ancient infantryman to hold his spear over his head for long periods of time, plus he shows that the underarm thrust actually has a longer effective kill range. Too, he questions things like whether or not the phalanax attacked at a run (as described by Herodotus at Marathon where he claims the Athenians ran a mile before hitting the Persian line) or did they attack at a walk and provides convincing evidence that the phalanx was more effective when it attacked in close order and that by running before engaging the enemy it was almost impossible to keep such a tight formation.

I like how Matthew examines the ancient sources, along with what recent scholarship has written, and then provides his own conclusions. I like too that he is not afraid to completely contradict well respected classicists like Victor Davis Hanson. I only have two gripes with his work, which is why I've given his book 4-stars rather than 5-stars.

One, I feel as if he is providing his findings from a scientific, almost sterile laboratory analysis. Real battles and real soldiers hardly perform under such conditions.
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