Books on Ancient Greece

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Ancient Greece
General Works

Books - Ancient Greece

General Works

Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare IX Issue 2: Struck with the Club of Hercules - The ascendancy of Thebes. Of the many states that dominated Ancient Greece, Thebes probably had both the most dramatic and shortest time in charge, running from their victory over the Spartans at Leuctra in 371 BC to the death of Epaminondas at Mantinea in 362 BC, but this decade changed the balance of power in Greece permanently. This issue focuses on those ten years, looking at the key figures and the key battles. Away from that looks at Roman tombstones, and the idea that Rome and China might have had contacts [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare IX Issue 5: At the Point of a Sarissa - Warriors of the Hellenistic Age Focuses on the soldiers of the Hellenistic era, a period in which vast multinational armies competed for control of the Empire of Alexander the Great, while smaller powers attempted to maintain some form of independence, before all were swallowed up by Rome and Parthia. Mainly focuses on the soldiers themselves, but also has some interesting articles on the wider period, as well as a look at disease in the Roman army and on Hadrian's Wall. [see more]
Early Iron Age Greek Warrior 1100-700 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the period between the heroic warriors of Homer and the rise of the Hoplite, a fairly obscure period where the bulk of the evidence comes from contemporary artworks or archaeological remains (and which only contains one certain major war, the First Messenian War). As a result the book focuses largely on reconstructing the changes in military equipment over this 400 year period, which ended with the first evidence of the hoplites [read full review]
In the Name of Lykourgos – The Rise and Fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement 243-146BC, Miltiadis Michalopoulos. Looks at the last desperate attempts to restore the power of Sparta, nearly a century and a half after her defeat at Leuctra was followed by a collapse of Spartan power. Three Spartan rulers, Agis IV, Cleomenes III and Nabis, made revolutionary attempts to increase the power of the Spartan army and to return Spartan society to a perceived golden age, but these efforts ended in military defeat, occupation and eventually permanent conquest by the Romans. [read full review]
Pylos and Sphacteria 425 BC, William Shepherd . Looks at one of the most significant Athenian victories of the Great Peloponnesian War, most notable for the unexpected surrender of a large number of full Spartiates. Covers the overall campaign, the Spartan attack on the Athenian camp on Pylos, the naval battle that isolated a force of Spartans on the island of Sphacteria and the amphibious assault that forced them to surrender. All supported by excellent photos of the local area, which really help set the scene [read full review]
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The Spartan Supremacy 412-371 BC, Mike Roberts and Bob Bennett. . Looks at the short spell between the end of the Great Peloponnesian War and the battle of Leuctra where Sparta's political power matched her military reputation. The authors look at how Sparta proved to be politically unequal to her new position, and how this period of supremacy ended with Sparta's military reputation in tatters and her political power fatally wounded. [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 4. The Ancient World's Fragile Giant - The Seleucid Empire at war. Looks at the largest of the successor states to the Emperor of Alexander the Great, the impressive empire created by Seleucus and maintained against great pressure for two centuries before eventually falling to Roman pressure. [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 5 . Trapped Behind Enemy Line - The March of the Ten Thousand . Focuses on the escape of a large force of Greek mercenaries who found themselves trapped in the middle of Persia after supporting the wrong side in a civil war. Famous as the topic of Xenophon's Anabasis, this is a fascinating campaign. [see more]
Early Aegean Warrior 5000-1450 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the weapons, armour, tactics and possible warfare in the Cycladic culture of 3,200-1,100 BC, early Cyprus and Minoan Crete. Packs a great deal of information into 64 pages to produce a very impressive overview of this early period of Greek history [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 2 . War, Trade and Adventure: Struggles of the Ionian Greeks. Focuses on the Ionian Greeks and in particular the cities of western Anatolia, looking at their struggles for independence against Lydia and Persia, their place in the wider Greek world, and their earlier fame as mercenaries. Also looks at some of Alexander's decisions, the 'right-bearing' legionaries and the evidence for a Roman invasion of Ireland.. [see more]
Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece, Josho Brouwers. Looks at warfare during the Mycenaean period, the Greek Dark Ages, the rise of the Hoplite and the Persian Wars. Supported by good full colour photos and illustrations, this is an interesting look at a less well known period of Ancient Greek history. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient world. Looks at a range of famous traitors in the Ancient World, stretching from the Biblical David up to Cataline's Revolt during the late Roman Republic, and a variety of types of betrayal, from internal revolt to siding with external enemies.. [see more]

Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 2: Struggle for control: Wars in ancient Sicily. Focuses on the series of wars between Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and native Sicilians that turned Sicily into a battleground in the centuries before the eventual Roman conquest, with good coverage of the wars between the Greek and Punic settlers and the tyrants that ruled for so long. Also looks at Roman ownership marks, attempts to avoid service in the Legions and Alexander's victory at the Granicus. [read full review]
Greece and Rome at War, Peter Connolly. An excellent military history of Ancient Greece and Rome, including an outline of military events and a detailed examination of the organisation and equipment of the armies of the period, based on a mix of documentary evidence, art and archaeology, hands-on reconstructions and visits to the battlefields. [read full review]
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Ancient History Magazine Vol V Issue 6: Clad in gold and silver: Elite units of the Hellenistic Era. Five articles examining elite troops in the successor states to the empire of Alexander the Great, the reign of Mithridates VI of Pontus, as well as a look at a depiction of Trajan, and a possible Roman siege at Burnswark in southern Scotland. [read full review]
The Persian Invasions of Greece, Arthur Keaveney. Fairly short but informative account of the famous campaigns of Darius and Xersex, written by an expert on ancient Persia and so with a rather different tone and emphasis than most books on this subject. Also covers the Ionian revolt and the build-up to the war in more detail than is often the case. [read full review]
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Sparta at War, Scott M. Rusch. A study of the rise, dominance and fall of Sparta, the most famous military power in the Classical Greek world. Sparta dominated land warfare for two centuries, before suffering a series of defeats that broke its power. The author examines the reasons for that success, and for Sparta's failure to bounce back from defeat. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 5, Fighting for the Gods: Warfare and ReligionAncient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 6: Royal Stalemate: Hellenistic kingdoms at war. An examination of the long series of wars between the successor states to Alexander the Great, often seen as a series of futile wars that only ended when Macedonia, Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Empire were swept away by the Romans. [see more]

2 The Field Campaigns of Alexander the Great, Stephen English. Completing a three volume study of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, this final book looks at his pitched battles and field campaigns. Combines a detailed examination of the sources with an attempt to produce coherent battle narratives. The discussion of the sources allows the reader to judge the success of the author's own narratives.   [read full review]
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The Tyrants of Syracuse: War in Ancient Sicily Volume I: 480-367 BC, Jeff Champion. A study of the military history of ancient Sicily, from the battle of Himera in 480 BC to the death of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, in 367 BC. This period saw the Greeks of Sicily fight the Carthaginians, the invading Athenians, the natives Sicilians, and perhaps most frequently each other [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 4, Darkness descends: End of the Bronze Age EmpiresAncient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 4, Darkness descends: End of the Bronze Age Empires. Focuses on the collapse of the Bronze Age empires of the Eastern Mediterranean, a period that saw the Hittite and Mycenaean civilisations disappear and Egypt come under serious pressure. Also looks at unusual tactics in Greek battles, metal working and the Imperial Roman Fleet. [see more]

The Sieges of Alexander the Great, Stephen English. Part of a three-part series looking at Alexander the Great, this volume focuses on his many sieges, from the early days in Greece to the famous sieges of Tyre and Gaza and on to the mountain top forts at the far east of the Persian empire and the cities of India [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 2, Blockade and Assault: Ancient siege warfareAncient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 2, Blockade and Assault: Ancient siege warfare. Six widely spread articles on siege warfare, looking at Thucydides' accounts of sieges, the defences of Spartan, the sieges of Alexander the Great, Punic Fortifications, Masada and the siege of Jerusalem, giving a good overview of the development of the siege during the Ancient world. [see more]
The Wars of Alexander's Successors, 323-281 BC: Volume II: Battles and Tactics, Bob Bennett and Mike Roberts. A look at the better documented battles fought by the successors of Alexander the Great that helps to show how skilled they were as commanders in their own right. Also has good sections on the armies themselves, sieges, naval warfare and border warfare. A useful look at the battles that helped shape the ancient world after the disruption caused by Alexander [read full review]
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From Democrats to Kings, Michael Scott. A hugely entertaining account of the tumultuous century between the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War and the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, a period that saw the city states of ancient Greece lose their independence, and come under the rule of the great Hellenistic kingdoms. [read full review]

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Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World, Philip A.G. Sabin. This book is an interesting but most unusual attempt to reconstruct some of the famous battles of the Ancient World. In many cases we have limited information or the sources we have contradict each other, so Sabin has created a simple war gaming system in an attempt to see which of our sources is most credible. [see more]
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