Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West
Doubleday, 2005 - 418 pages
In 480 B.C., Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For seventy years, victory--rapid, spectacular victory--had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks of the mainland managed to hold out. The Persians were turned back. Greece remained free. Had the Greeks been defeated in the epochal naval battle at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such an entity as the West at all.
Tom Holland's brilliant new book describes the very first "clash of Empires" between East and West. As he did in the critically praised "Rubicon," he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no other popular history that takes in the entire sweep of the Persian Wars, and no other classical historian, academic or popular, who combines scholarly rigor with novelistic depth with a worldly irony in quite the fashion that Tom Holland does.
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Merchants had grown fat on the tyranny. Silver weighed heavy on counting tables
all over the city, coins standardized, it seems likely, by the Pisistratids themselves
, stamped on one side with Athena and on the other with her sacred owl — a
currency so pure that already it had come to rank among the strongest of any
city's. But if it had served to make the rich more of a force to be reckoned with
than ever, it had also raised the profile of those on whom big business depended,
Here, at the temple of Poseidon which had served the alliance as its
headquarters throughout the summer, a great jamboree of mutual backslapping
was held. Sacrifices were offered to the gods, and prizes given. The sense of
relief was immense. "A black cloud," as Themistocles put it, "has been swept
away from off the sea."~M But not, unfortunately from off the land — with
implications for the alliance that might prove ominous, as the shrewder Athenians
and Spartans had already ...
First, far from demoralizing the Greeks, the cavalry raid served only to boost their
morale: for the Persian commander, a hulking dandy who had ridden into battle
sporting a purple tunic and an eye-catching cuirass of golden fish scales, had his
Nisaean horse shot from under him and ended up dead and exposed on a
wagon, being paraded before the gawking allied troops. Shortly afterward, the
treachery in the Athenian camp was uncovered by Aristeides, who, deciding that
he could ...
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LibraryThing ReviewAvis d'utilisateur - kaitanya64 - LibraryThing
This book is well-written and interesting, but as a non-specialist I found the chronology a bit confusing. To complete his project, the author has to jump back and forth in time to cover events that ... Consulter l'avis complet
LibraryThing ReviewAvis d'utilisateur - pierthinker - LibraryThing
A fan of history, but never really into the ancient world, this was my first serious book about the Persian and Greek empires of the 5th century BC. Tom Holland writes with passion, authority and ... Consulter l'avis complet
THE KHORASAN HIGHWAY
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