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The Ten Thousand: A Novel of Ancient Greece Mass Market Paperback – October 13, 2002

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; First Edition edition (October 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312980329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312980320
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for those who love history, but also for everyone who enjoys a well told tale.
M. J. Keel
This novel by Michael Curtis Ford brings to life a true story from Greek's ancient past, Xenophon's march of the Ten Thousand.
J. Chippindale
The crude plot and minimal character development results in a story that is completely devoid of theme.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Stuart W. Mirsky on 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 By Rusir-10 on December 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on October 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I normally don't write reviews, but I just finished this incredible book, and when I looked it up on Amazon I was astounded to see the weird conclusions being drawn by a previous reviewer. Tissaphernes a woman?! Holy cow, the text makes it quite clear that the woman was the Persian general's daughter, not the general himself! The story ended halfway through!? The reviewer admittedly draws his information from some high school term paper dredged from the Web. Yikes. Some facts need to be set straight here, and since I loved this book, as well as the original material it was drawn from, I guess I'll do it.
This book is a tremendous novel--a readaption and fictionalization of the Anabasis, Xenophon's recounting of the march of 10,000 Greek soldiers against the most powerful army on earth, and of their struggle for survival after their defeat. Ford accurately, even poetically, describes the bulk of this historic journey, ending only when the Greeks have made their way to safe haven. His rendering covers the original story up to its climax. He thankfully omitted the rest of Xenophon's original work, which is much less novel-worthy. Ford's work is a brilliant effort, and part of its brilliance is in knowing just when to stop. In fact, in an endnote, the author recommends that readers look up the original account.
This book is a great achievement, one that IMHO surpasses even Gates of Fire in its pacing and battle scenes. Don't let bizarre reviews dissuade you from what will definitely become a classic in historical fiction.
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