Book Reviews

Ancient History

Persian empire: a history by Lindsay Allen

An excellent book on the Persians from their beginnings to Alexander the Great. It covers  their culture, and what evidence they left behind, as well as the story of their empire

Persian fire: the first world empire and the battle for the West by Tom Holland

Covers the Persian campaign against Greece, the same time period as the Battle of Marathon podcast. When writing history, especially ancient history, you have to decide how much detail to go into the debates on what really happened. Too little and you appear to state as fact what we can only guess. Too much and you bog down the story with uncertainty. Holland chooses to  tell the story as he saw it, and leave such debate to the footnotes, and with his superb style, the book reads as much as a story as a historical study.

Marathon: how one battle changed Western civilisation by Richard Billow

Gives general background to the Persian/Greek conflict, concentrating on Marathon and its significance.

Ancient Greece: from prehistoric to hellenistic, by Thomas R. Martin

The best book I’ve seen to cover the whole story of Ancient Greece

Punic wars, 264-146 BC, by Nigel Bagnall

Hannibal, by Serge Lancel

Good source for the Battle of Zama, and Hannibal’s life and character

Rome’s Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest, by Adrian Murdoch

The best book I found to give the background of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, as well as the battle itself

Four Days in September, by Jason R. Abdale

A less academically rigorous book than Adrian Murdoch’s on Trutoburg, but provides interesting alternative viewpoints



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The story of Europe from the Ancient Greeks to the First World War