Book Review: Land Battles in 5th Century B.C. Greece: A History and Analysis of 173 Engagements


by Fred Eugene Ray

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. vi, 315. Maps, tables, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $55.00. ISBN:0786435348

Although by training a geologist, Ray has given us a "forensic" analysis of nearly 200 battles from the height of the "Hoplite Era."  Some of the battles are famous, such as Marathon or Plataea, but most are quite obscure. 
The analysis is rooted in some amazingly careful research.  Ray draws upon ancient texts, including not only histories and biographies, but also poems and incriptions, combined with the results of archaeological evacuations and terrain analysis.  In addition, Ray looked at modern studies of weapons' effectiveness and human factors studies, "living history" experiments, and staff ride and wargaming techniques to help clarify the probable course of some actions, since narrative accounts are often unclear.
The result is a valuable book for anyone interested in warfare in the Classical age or infantry in any era..
The chief flaw of Ray's book is that he fails to provide proper foot-notes, using instead in-text "documentation" which is often too brief to permit easy checking of references, not to mention disrupts the narrative flow 

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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