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Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (General Military) Paperback – March 24, 2009
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Not to detract from what is an outstanding study by a conscientious scholar, here are some general and specific issues:
1). The book is occasionally written dramatically rather than clinically, which can confuse some of the narrative (what is the difference between "completely" and "totally" crushed)?
2). There is an obsession with addressing the most ignorant of Western scholarship, when the average self-selected reader will have already accepted the author's (true) assertion that ancient Iran was VERY culturally and militarily influential.
3). The author is not without some bias: he over-associates the Iranians of Persia with the Iranians of Central Asia, and is constantly reporting the contributions of these pastoralists to the rest of the world. While they were important intermediaries (transmitting knowledge of the chariot from China to Greece), they are not Persian, even if they share common ancestry/culture (155). He also spends a whole paragraph seemingly to justify the legitimacy of the incorporation of Iranian Azerbaijan (122).
4). The allusions to 19th and 20th Century events don't often work. The Maginot line, like the Wall of Babylon was for deterrence, not defence (42). Mazdak is more like an Epicurean than a Marxist (with his monistic atheist eschatological historiography - 221).
5).Read more ›
Although published by Osprey Military Press, thus implying military orientation of the text, this book is much more than an overview of the martial cultures (battles, campaigns, warriors, weapons, tactics) that sprung from the Persian/Iranian soil. It is a story of the Iranian peoples who came to dominate the Western and Central Asia for over 1000 years while influencing the cultures of Europe (Greece and Rome), Africa (Egypt, Ethiopia) and and distant China - influences in religion while giving us the most romantic notion of a martial personage - a fully armoured knight with a long lance in this hand, long sword and mace at this side while astride his fiery and faithful stallion - as personified by the Persian kings and lords from Darius (Achaemenid Persia), Surrenas(Parthians) to Chosroes and Rostam Farrokhzad (Sassanian Iran) or immortalized by the legendary Persian warrior of Shahnameh - Rostam on his Raksh.
Author who already has successfully given the readers the story of the Sassanian(the last preIslamic culture of Persia) cavalry elite aka as asavaran (also published by Osprey), here undertook the Herculean task of condensing the millennia of Persian history into 300 pages. In result he quite skillfully weaves the narrative of the more than a thousand years long story of the Persian empires without tiring the reader with his descriptions or concussions.Read more ›
I thought the author did an excellent job in summarizing these 1,000 plus years into a very readable and easy to access book that should give anyone who wishes to know anything about the ancient Persian civilizations, a good and clear understanding.
The book comes well illustrated, nice maps and good photographs including reenactor photographs that was done under the late Shah of Iran during the early 1970s. Interesting photos of men dressed up like Persian warriors of Darius the Great.
Perhaps the book fell short on the military history part since the author appears to give summarized coverage to all aspects of the four Persian civilizations in question (four being the ancient Persian Empire, Greek Persian era, Parthian Empire and Sassanian Empire). He goes bit off tangent when tracing racial roots of the Persian homeland and love to use that word "aryan" to describe his Persian/Iranian subject. He could be bit tick at the way Euro-centric thinkers stole that word from its rightful place in history.
Overall, this is a good book to recommend since it will give any reader a clear understanding of the history of the ancient Persia prior to the Islamic conquest. Other reviewers have nitpicks the book so you have to read them if you want the specifics. But overall, its informative, interesting and easy to absorbed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Learn the history you should have learned in school but didn't. Shadows in the Desert hould be required reading in all American high schools- not just to gain a greater... Read morePublished on July 24, 2014 by Amazon Customer
This is an excellent introduction to Persian history, focusing on warfare, but covering much more.
Until recently, it's been difficult to find much in English on... Read more
I long ago came to expect excellence from any book produced by Osprey Publishing, and this book certainly meets my expectations. Read morePublished on July 1, 2013 by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
With the exception of one preposterous statement that I must call out, I found "Shadows in the Desert" to be enjoyable and informative. Read morePublished on April 22, 2013 by James Simmons
Amazing. Informative with a easy to understand not boring style. For any one who has no knowledge, after reading this, they'll be a pro.Published on January 11, 2013 by Abu Talal
This book has the viewpoint of an Iranian Historian, which is very refreshing; it has never been done before in English, and I think the book is excellent in all respects. Read morePublished on December 30, 2010 by R. Gutow
Wow. This is a great work of scholarship. Not only does Farrokh offer an eminently readable history of Persia given through the eyes of its military, but he also manages to offer a... Read morePublished on December 29, 2010 by Ryan Mease
SHADOWS IN THE DESERT: ANCIENT PERSIA AT WAR
OSPREY PUBLISHING, 2007
QUALITY SOFTCOVER, $29. Read more
I just finished reading my first round of "Shadows in the Desert", and I would like to leave you with a few comments and observations from a my humble... Read more