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The Ten Thousand: A Novel of Ancient Greece [Kindle Edition]

Michael Curtis Ford
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $23.99
Kindle Price: $7.59
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

After decades of war, mighty Athens has been ravaged-- its navy destroyed, its city walls toppled, its army disbanded. The fierce military state of Sparta has triumphed, but passions and hate linger on. Thousands of battle-hardened veterans from both sides in the conflict remain scattered across the Greek islands, restless and dangerous-- until the young Persian prince Cyrus issues a call to arms from his base in Asia Minor. The rogue nobleman is raising an enormous mercenary army to wrest control of all of Persia, the most powerful empire on earth, from his half-brother the king.

The young philosopher-warrior Xenophon, scion of a noble Athenian family and follower of Socrates, risks his father's wrath and embarks on the adventure with high hopes for glory. Joining his cousin Proxenus, the war-maddened Spartan general Clearchus, and a huge body of Cyrus' native troops, he and ten thousand Greek mercenaries depart on an astounding march of a thousand miles, across the searing desert. Their near-deadly journey culminated in a massive, bloody battle at the very threshold of Babylon-- a battle that proves disastrous for them. Their leaders are betrayed and murdered, their supply lines cut, and their route home across the desert blocked by the furious Persian king, bent on revenge. The Fates call on Xenophon to lead the devastated Greek soldiers in their escape, though he has little experience in commanding men. As the army flees toward the snowy north, its situation appears desperate.

Months later, ten thousand battered, half-starved soldiers stagger out of the frozen mountains of Armenia into a small Greek trading post on the Black Sea. Their true tale of survival, and of the heroic expedition Xenophon led through the heart of an enemy empire, astonished the incredulous natives and has been the stuff of legend ever since.

Michael Curtis Ford combines his expertise on fifth-century B.C. Greek warfare with explosive page-turning action to give us an epic novel of struggle and survival. Not since Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire has any book so vividly captured the glory, beauty, and savage bloodshed that was ancient Greece.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ill-fated campaign of Xenophon's army in the political chaos following the Peloponnesian War is the subject of Ford's debut, a long and labyrinthine affair that begins with the army's successful journey to Babylon and an initial battle in which the Persian forces are routed. But the tide quickly turns when the Persians sneak behind enemy lines and pillage the Greek camp, leaving Xenophon's army stranded hundreds of miles from home with few supplies. Rather than starve by taking the desert route back, Xenophon decides to attempt a perilous journey through hostile enemy terrain populated by several dangerous tribes, and as they progress the Greeks are forced to endure a horrific series of hardship just to survive. The more intriguing scenes: the Greeks use a tribe of deadly slingshot artists to defeat a formidable enemy; they get waylaid by a cache of poisonous honey; a winter march results in the death of dozens of soldiers . The major subplot in the book narrated by Xenophon's alter ego, Themostigenes (nicknamed Theo) concerns the protagonist's adventurous but tortured affair with a royal Persian woman named Asteria who is traveling with the Greek army, and whom he saves from death during battle. Ford has some compelling material, and his account includes authentic details about ancient peoples, customs and battle strategies. But his melodramatic, turgid prose produces a rather monotonous story delivered in heroic overtones, with little feel for pace, no true climax and a dearth of fully realized characters. The result is a novel that fails to live up to its subject's potential. (June)Forecast: The publisher hopefully compares this novel to Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, but this is no match and won't match Gates's sales, either.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When Darius II, King of Persia, died and was succeeded by his brother Artaxerxes, Darius's son, Cyrus the Younger, collected a force of 100,000 Persians and 13,000 Greek mercenaries, mainly Spartans, and marched on Artaxerxes's stronghold in an attempt to win the throne for himself. In 401 B.C.E., the armies of Cyrus met those of Artaxerxes in battle at Cunaxa, near the Euphrates River. After Cyrus was gruesomely killed in battle, the Greeks wanted nothing more than to return to their beloved homeland. Without the provisions needed to return by way of the desert over which they had come, they struggled 1000 miles through Kurdistan and over the Armenian mountains in the dead of winter until finally reaching the Black Sea. Along the way, the "Ten Thousand" were decimated by hostile forces, starvation, frostbite, and disease. Based primarily on the writings of Xenophon, a junior officer who assumed command of the Spartan forces after most of the senior officers were treacherously slaughtered, this novel retains much of the flavor of the soldier's memoirs. Ford, a Romance linguistics scholar, combines historical accuracy with eloquent storytelling to create an epic story that will capture the imagination of anyone interested in the history of ancient Greece. A worthy successor to Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire (LJ 9/1/98), this is highly recommended for all public libraries.
-. Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 619 KB
  • Print Length: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0028UBFGS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,970 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine rendering of a much older tale! September 20, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read the Anabasis, the narrative by the Greek historian Xenophon, upon which this book is based, many years back and, when I saw this book, I was pleasantly surprised that someone had actually taken a crack at novelizing it.

The original text of the Anabasis essentially records the vicissitudes of a troop of Greek mercenaries who got stuck in the middle of the Persian empire, far from their native Hellenic hills, on the wrong side of a civil war between two Persian bluebloods. With their leader and employer taking an untimely powder in the midst of the critical battle, they are left without a patron, ten thousand against a hundred thousand or more, and no way out across a vast inhospitable desert lying between them and their Mediterranean road home, while being shadowed by a treacherous Persian general.

How they pull it together in the face of incredible hardships and fight their way home again is the crux of this tale . . . and it's a rousing one. Still, having read Xenophon, I was faced with the fact that there was little suspense for me in this adventure since I already knew how the basic narrative would work itself out. Worse, the interior sub-plots were all too easy to second guess, while the characters were not as sharply drawn as I'd have liked and so not as compelling, for their part, as they might have been.

More, there was a rather distant, abstractness to the writing itself that tended to leave me a trifle cold. It did not engage me as much as Pressfield's GATES OF FIRE had, the novel about the Spartan stand against Xerxes' invading Persians, roughly a generation or so before the events which Xenophon recorded.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not Great December 18, 2002
As someone who reads mostly science fiction and fantasy, this book represented a nice change of pace. Similar subject matter to what I typically read, but with the added spin of reality. Michael Ford gets high marks for conveying a very real world. Yes, I know it is a real world, but presumably Mr. Ford wasn't around when the actual events took place. Based on the detail that he included in the story from the marching and camp conditions, politics, geography, etc., he obviously did an excellent job of researching his topic and really bringing ancient Greece to life.
Having said that, I have to say that the story left me somewhat flat. Its a heroic tale by anyone's definition, but the characters didn't really come to life for me. Maybe its because I'm used to a fictional tale, but I can't say that I cared overly much about Xenophon nor did I feel like I really knew him.
Despite my vague dissatisfaction upon completion of the book, I do have to say that it kept my interest and was a pretty quick read. I also feel like I learned something from reading the book and would recommend it to friends.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ten Thousand - Restored July 18, 2001
Michael Curtis Ford's historical novel The Ten Thousand is a faithful and exquisitely written modern-day reworking of one of the most enduring adventure stories from the ancient Greek world, Xenophon's Anabasis. The original work by the renegade Athenian cavalry warrior Xenophon is his personal record of his (purportedly) single-handed rescue of a straggling army of ten thousand Greek soldiers stranded deep within the territory of Persia. They came to be so stranded because their leader, the Persian rebel Cyrus who wished to overthrow his brother the King of Persia, fell in battle at Cunaxa, and the Greek generals were subsequently butchered through an act of treachery by the Persian leader Tissaphernes.
Imagine finding yourself in such a state. The year is 401 B.C. You are a wealthy Athenian aristocrat, a hardened equestrian, under the age of thirty. Conditions at home are politically untenable and personally unbearable for you in the aftermath of Athens' defeat in a long war with her adversary the city of Sparta. Consequently, at the insistent appeal of your cousin and childhood friend, you have left your home city to join in the riskiest of operations: a rebellion against none other than the Persian King himself.
But now the uprising has failed. The army is trapped behind enemy lines, ringed by powerful enemies, leaderless, disorganized, demoralized, disconsolate, starving, injured, dying. Suddenly you, up to now a mere spectator, receive a vision that inspires you to take charge of your fellow men and bring them out of Persia and back home to Greece. You are still too young to be a general. But take charge you must - yourself.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Historic Adventures October 4, 2001
Xenophon's Anabais is one of the great historic adventures of the ancient world. It recounts the extraordinary epic of ten thousand Greek mercenaries abandoned around eastern Iraq who fought and marched across modern Turkey against overwhelming odds and returned to Greece by way of the Black Sea.
This novel is a sound first novel, openly based on Xenophon's work, and a good introduction to the challenges faced by Xenophon both in the failing Greece in which Athens had been defeated by the Peloponnesian Wars and the economy and society were both battered and in the long ordeal of first service and then a march of extraordinary endurance.
For anyone interested in thinking about the ancient world, the degree to which cultures have clashed, and the process of survival this is a thought-provoking book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great historical fiction of an amazing character who deserves...
I love the way MC Ford weaves fact and fiction to bring historical characters to life! That said, I thought this book included too many and too long tangents on philosophy and... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Jeff Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent adaptation of Anabasis.
Published 1 month ago by Dadvocate09
5.0 out of 5 stars I Like Long Marches to the Sea, and Watching the "Warriors"
What can I say, I'm a sucker for sandals and swords stories. I even liked the movie Troy, go figure. Read more
Published 2 months ago by 4321dud
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great strategic ancient war book
This is a great strategic ancient war book. Has an interesting story with plenty of fighting and history in it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nina
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
Read thus a second time
The historical setting
The imagery, the twists and turns. Incredible !!!!
A truly gifted author
Published 9 months ago by raymond fong
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
A great read for anyone interested in the time period.

Note to self: add Persia to places that one should think twice about invading.
Published 10 months ago by TWJ
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I love this series own them all. well written and kept me engrossed all the way to the end. It was a great price and worth it.
Published 10 months ago by crasin
5.0 out of 5 stars What an adventure.
A historical adventure story that has few parallels in modern history. Once I started I could not stop. Also a great lesson in leadership that still has value today. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, loved it
Really nice book, Have been picking up some of his other stuff also. Really kept me immersed in it. Recommend highly
Published 16 months ago by John Tibbs
4.0 out of 5 stars very good historical fiction novel
I enjoyed this swords and sandals novel about the march up-country. Based on a history written by Xenophon who led the Greeks out of Persia.
Published 18 months ago by David Payant
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