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Xenophon: And the Art of Command Hardcover – October, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books (October 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853674176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853674174
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,762,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dimitrios on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Using prime sources like Xenophon's Kyropaideia, Agesilaos, The Constitution of Lacedaemonians, Ways and Means, The Cavalry Commander, The Art of Horsemanship, On Hunting, Anabasis, Hellenika, Memorabilia and Oikonomikos and also Plutarch's Agesilaos, Pelopidas, Lysander, Alkibiades and Artaxerxes, Mr Godfrey Hutchinson does an excellent job analysing the ancient art of command, the lessons of hard experience and what they teach us today (the value of innovative thinking is proved at the case of the Thebans who smashed the famous Spartan phalanx at Tegyra, Leuctra and Mantineia). Xenophon was a really gifted person who started the campaign to Persia in the army of Cyrus the Younger, only to turn a general by the vote of his colleagues, when the Greek leadership was massacred by treachery. He not only managed to lead the Ten Thousand back to safety but also revealed a keen eye for tactics and strategy, writing down his experiences for posterity and even describing his ideal commander. Many of his suggestions found their way later in Alexander's operational art, shattering the Persian Empire for centuries. The reader will be surprised to find out how many problems of today's armies were also faced by the ancients and how they chose to solve them. Mr Hutchinson also uses heavily Sun Tzu's writings and compares them (together with modern manuals on operational art) with those of the Greeks. There are some good diagrams on the most important battles which Xenophon describes and also some black and white photos. The book is a real gem and it is certainly worth reading.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The organization of the book is by work, arranged chronologically by material (rather than publication), so that it runs Part I: Hellenica; Part II: Anabasis, and Part III: Cyropedia/Minor Works.

Generally Hutchinson does a lot more summarization than analysis, and even this is fairly redundant. His most grievous misstep comes, in my opinion, via the inclusion of material from Sun Tzu, which can have no real purpose in illuminating either a) Greek military tactics or b) Xenophon's own literary development, since there was clearly no contact between cultures (nor does H. posit any). It's simply an inclusion for the sake of inclusion, which does not add to the book.

In the end it's neither a historical study of command techniques nor of the characters of the generals themselves in the work(despite the title)--because it dwells more on unspecific tactics and strategies than on the individuals in the writings of Xenophon. There are other, better books out there; skip this one.
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