Why this book?
There’s no substitute for reading about events by someone who was there. This book is about a largely forgotten incident, when 10,000 Greek mercenaries became involved in an attempt by Cyrus the Great to seize control of the Persian Empire from his brother. When Cyrus’ bid failed, the Greeks found themselves far from home and surrounded by foes; they then marched through Mesopotamia and modern-day Turkey to the Black Sea coast, where they were able to find ships that took them home to Greece.
It’s a tale of adventure and struggle, and sheer determination not to give in. It’s also a great example of how the author of such a work can find themselves faced with the difficult task of describing their own role in events. In the second half of the work, Xenophon gives increasing prominence to his personal leadership and suggestions. Regardless of any elements of self-promotion, it’s a tale of an epic march through adversity – a great example of how history can often be every bit as tense and exciting as fiction.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Widely considered the most famous work of the professional soldier and writer Xenophon, “Anabasis” is a true tale of dangerous adventure in ancient Greece. Though advised not to join the army of 10,000 by his friend Socrates, Xenophon does set out with Cyrus the Great in that man’s attempt to gain the empire of Persia from his brother. When this leader is killed in battle, however, the army loses cause and direction, and the result is a ‘marching republic’ in which the remainder of the army must fight their way home. Through endless miles of hostile territory where their foes…