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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave

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Monday, 12 August 2019

Battles and Battlefields of Ancient Greece

This is a book I wish I had owned for the last 20 years! Jacob Butera and Matthew Sears have written an excellent guide to the battles and battlefields of ancient Greece. Mind you; it's a weighty tome, so you might want to leave it in the car as you walk the field.



In the preface, the authors rightly stress the importance of visiting battlefields to understand what happened. I have probably visited more than most, and my understanding has often been challenged by what I have seen. What you thought was a gentle hill, turns out to be a steep climb, or it becomes evident that a general could not possibly have seen a particular flanking move.

As an introduction for the general reader, there is a concise chapter on ancient Greek and Roman warfare, which explains the development of warfare during this period and also the contested evidence. Historians still argue over the way Hoplites fought, and the truth is that we will never know for sure. Such is the joy of history!

The book divides Greece up geographically, which is sensible for what is meant to be a travel guide. Starting with Athens and Attica, the usual starting point for tourists, then moving to central Greece, northern Greece and finally the Peloponnese.

In all, twenty battles are covered. These include all the famous ones like Marathon, Salamis, Thermopylae and Chaeronea - as well as less well-known actions such as Mounichia.

The format is a brief introduction followed by general directions to the battle site. Then a reasonably detailed historical outline to the battle and detailed advice on the best places to view the site, including GPS references. Finally, recommended reading including the ancient and modern sources as well as journal articles. There is extensive use of satellite images of the topography with the ancient deployments drawn over.

This book will undoubtedly be going with me on my next visit to Greece.

And let's have some Greek 28mm figures from my collection to go with it.



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