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In 480 B.C., the mighty Persian king Xerxes led a massive force to the narrow mountain pass called Thermopylae, anticipating no significant resistance in his bid to conquer Greece. But the Greeks, led by Leonidas and a small army of Spartan warriors, took the battle to the Persians and nearly halted their advance.
Paul Cartledge's riveting, authortative account of King Leonidas and the legendary 300 illuminates this valiant endeavor that changed the way future generations would think about combat, courage, and death.
"[Cartledge] has an easy, vivid style, a cool mastery of facts and theories, and a commonsensical imperviousness to flimflam of any sort." —The New Republic
"Our leading historian of Sparta, Cartledge is second to none in the ability to subject myth to the cold light of scholarship. He offers a lucid overview of the Greco-Persian relations at the start of the war, an elegant description of Sparta in a nutshell, and a prudent introduction to the work of Herodotus. There is also a witty and erudite tour of Thermopylae allusions through the ages."—The New Criterion
"A masterful account. . . . A class in Western Civilization that instructs and entertains. . . . Cartledge emerges as an eloquent apologist of the Spartan way."—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Paul Carledge has done more than anyone to explore what Spartan society was really like and to comprehend its ideas and rituals. . . . [He] tells his story well—he is never afraid to leave scholarly analysis for good straighforward narrative—and there is much to enjoy in his account."—History Today (UK)