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The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon and Its Impact on Western Civilization Paperback – April 9, 2013
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“With a soldier’s eye, Jim Lacey recreates the Battle of Marathon in all its brutal simplicity. This compelling and provocative read makes a potent contribution to an enduring debate.”—Barry Strauss, author of The Battle of Salamis and Professor of History, Cornell University
“A lively and readable account of the battle of Marathon and its significance. Jim Lacey’s experience as a professional soldier gives it an added dimension, especially his ability to see the military situation from both sides.”—Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War
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Top Customer Reviews
The first part of the account deals with the political and military background in the eastern Mediterranean over the century or so preceding Darius' invasion of Greece. As a non-classicist, I found parts of this narrative less than gripping. The area covered is so large, the small kingdoms so numerous, the names of the main participants so many, and the alliances so shifting that someone relatively unfamiliar with the period is likely to flinch. This is not really a criticism of the author, nor indeed of his writing style. Rather it is the more or less inevitable reaction of a non-scholar to a dense tapestry of history.
Far more accessible is the part dealing with the Battle intself. The author points out that an over-reliance on the writings of Herotodus (variously desribed as the "Father of History" and the "Father of Lies")can be dangerous. Although he is the primary source of the time, his inclination to gild the lily for the sake of popularity with his Athenian audience can be a problem. Jim Lacey's description of the possible course of the battle is extremely plausible, written as it is from a military perspective. It adequately answers the major questions about the battle which he outlines at the end of the book under the title of "The Great Debates"
In the book's conclusion, the author deals briefly with the impact of the Battle on Western Civiisation.Read more ›
I'll readily admit I'm not very familiar with ancient history, but after reading The Ghosts of Cannae by Robert O'Connell my interest was piqued (admittedly the two books cover a history hundreds of years apart, but when it's that old it's all "ancient" to me). I knew about the stereotypes of Sparta (warlike) and Athens (democratic) but that was about it. But this book is full of information on the time and told in a very methodical manner that manages to keep some dusty old history from becoming overly textbookish.
Scholars and those interested in this particular history will certainly find this an essential read, but I think others with a strong interest in history will find this appealing as well. Since I'm not familiar with the era I found it hard reading and had to go slow to absorb it, frequently rereading paragraphs. There's a LOT of names and places that make it confusing, and in spite of its overall short length it's not the kind of book I could breeze through. But it was a rewarding effort. Mr.Read more ›
For readers wanting to know more about Cyrus and Darius, the first part of this book focuses on Persia, to understand the drive the Persians had to move westward. This helps to stress how effective a Greek vicotry has turned out to be. By all accounts, the Greeks should have lost.
Ultimately the war at Marathon was won by Athens because they had obviously more reason to fight: a loss to Persia met subjugation to a foreign ruler and the demise of all things Helenic. Athens and Sparta never trusted one another, but united in the end to defeat the Persians, and thus the Greek empire was formed.
Dr Lacey presents the history of the battle of Marathon and the importance of a Greek victory into viable perspective. Had the Greeks lost, it would have doomed Greek civilization, and with that, the rise of western civilization. The writing style flows, although at times it may appear too scholarly. His biggest source, as with all things ancient Greece, is Herodotus, whom he sees as a biased journalist rather than a historian, and he gives examples of that throughout the book. It makes the reader wonder how much of Herodotus was made up just to please certain Greek emperors?
Kudos to Lacey also for not just repeating other historian's theories about the Battle of Marathon.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The appealing part of this book is that it gives superb context (at least for the non-specialist) for the epic battle at Marathon. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Matthew J. Brennan
A very readable history of the Battle of Marathon and it's place in the Peloponnesian wars . Much more readable than Herodotus. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Edward E Schwaneke
"We shall never know exactly what happened at Marathon,..." wrote Noah Whatley in his seminal article, "On The Possibility Of Reconstructing Marathon And Other Ancient... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
A good read with plenty of historical facts yet no some much that it is cumbersome to enjoy .if one is interested in this time I would say this book is a good starting point.Published 11 months ago by chuck's reviews
The book was great, including a very thorough explanation of "background" to the battle.Published 15 months ago by latingraw
Excellent historical account of the battle of Marathon. Well researched. Author teaches military history at the Marine War College - and he travelled several hours from his home... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Kay