10 books like The Landmark Thucydides

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Landmark Thucydides. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Empires of the Sea

By Roger Crowley,

Book cover of Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580

This book is an extraordinary synthesis of half a century of history (c. 1520-1571) as European powers and the Ottoman Empire fought for control of the Mediterranean Sea. Empires of the Sea focuses on a number of momentous military engagements, the Siege of Rhodes (1522), the Siege of Malta (1565), the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1570-1), and the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Crowley writes like an artist evoking the colors and textures of the brilliant seventeenth-century amid a world of emperors, sultans, popes, and pirates. He manages to capture both the extraordinary individuals who shaped momentous events through their personalities and the broader historical trends that led to the defeat of Ottoman expansion during the 16th century and shaped the contours of Europe as we know it today.

Empires of the Sea

By Roger Crowley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Empires of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Empires of the Sea shows the Mediterranean as a majestic and bloody theatre of war. Opening with the Ottoman victory in 1453 it is a breathtaking story of military crusading, Barbary pirates, white slavery and the Ottoman Empire - and the larger picture of the struggle between Islam and Christianity. Coupled with dramatic set piece battles, a wealth of riveting first-hand accounts, epic momentum and a terrific denouement at Lepanto, this is a work of history at its broadest and most compelling.


The Landmark Herodotus

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Book cover of The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories

For anyone wanting to find out not just what happened in the Graeco-Persian Wars (490–479 BC) but how their participants viewed the world, Herodotus’ Histories are a treasure trove. Writing a generation after the event, Herodotus travelled widely, interviewing as many people as he could from veterans to Egyptian priests. But readers must be wary: Herodotus wasn’t writing history as we understand it. Instead, he blended fact, anecdote, and moralizing to demonstrate why in his view the Greek way of life (especially Athenian democracy) was superior to Persian totalitarianism, and why Persian hubris merited divine punishment. While the Landmark edition’s translation of Herodotus’ seductive prose may not be the best (Tom Holland’s, for example, is better), the number and clarity of its maps make it invaluable.

The Landmark Herodotus

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Landmark Herodotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 5th century BC an adventurous Ionian Greek, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, journeyed extensively through the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, from Egypt to Asia Minor, collecting tales of the upheavals that had afflicted the region in the earlier part of the century. The fruits of his wanderings were The Histories, in which he used his narrative gifts not only to chronicle the rise of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and its war with the Greek city-states, but also to recount his experiences with the varied peoples and cultures he had encountered during his journey.
Herodotus earned the nickname 'the father…


Aphrodite's Tortoise

By Lloyd Llewellyn Jones,

Book cover of Aphrodite's Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece

Fifth-century BC Athenian society was male-dominated, so most of our evidence comes from – and is about – men. Elegantly written, immaculately researched, and pleasingly illustrated, Aphrodite’s Tortoise goes a long way towards restoring the gender balance, uncovering the complex role that women played in Greek society, whether as wives, priestesses or slaves. At the heart of the book is the use of the veil, which not only protected women from the male gaze as they ventured outside (hence the title) but could convey a variety of visual signals depending on how it was worn. It’s a really stimulating book, the kind that makes you sit up and think about not just the ancient world but our own.

Aphrodite's Tortoise

By Lloyd Llewellyn Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aphrodite's Tortoise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greek women routinely wore the veil. That is the unexpected finding of this major study. The Greeks, rightly credited with the invention of civic openness, are revealed as also part of a more eastern tradition of seclusion. From the iconography as well as the literature of Greece, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones shows that fully veiling of face and head was commonplace. He analyses the elaborate Greek vocabulary for veiling, and explores what the veil was meant to achieve. He also uses Greek and more recent - mainly Islamic - evidence to show how women could exploit and subvert the veil to achieve…


The Spartans

By Paul Cartledge,

Book cover of The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece

Of the over 1,000 independent city-states that made up the Hellenic world -- and competed in the Olympic Games -- Sparta is today the most notorious and influential (after Athens). This book provides a wonderful insight into its extraordinary culture, where Spartan males were brought up in a strict, even ruthless regime of military training, discipline, and self-sacrifice for the communal good -- but where women were given unexpected freedom and power.

The Spartans

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Spartans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Spartan legend has inspired and captivated subsequent generations with evidence of its legacy found in both the Roman and British Empires. The Spartans are our ancestors, every bit as much as the Athenians. But while Athens promoted democracy, individualism, culture and society, their great rivals Sparta embodied militarism, totalitarianism, segregation and brutal repression. As ruthless as they were self-sacrificing, their devastatingly successful war rituals made the Spartans the ultimate fighting force, epitomized by Thermopylae. While slave masters to the Helots for over three centuries, Spartan women, such as Helen of Troy, were free to indulge in education, dance and…


The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum

By Ian Jenkins,

Book cover of The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum

Much of Classical Greece remains intangible, but some of its artworks have survived (albeit often in fragments) allowing us to gaze upon what ancient Greeks once saw. Among the greatest sculptures are those which adorned the Parthenon, created in Athens’ heyday under Pericles. Few knew more about them than the late and much-missed Ian Jenkins, whose sumptuously illustrated book not only discusses the artworks but reproduces many in such glorious detail that you feel you could almost touch them. You can certainly appreciate their energy. And in the end, for me, it’s this energy – preserved through time in art or literature – that makes the study of Classical Greece so exciting. As Sparta was for Athens, so Classical Greece can be for us a mirror in which to reevaluate ourselves. 

The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum

By Ian Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum are unrivalled examples of classical Greek art that have inspired sculptors, artists, poets and writers since their creation in the fifth century BC. This book serves as a superb visual introduction to these magnificent sculptures. The book showcases a series of specially taken photographs of the different sculptural elements: the pediments, metopes and Ionic frieze. It captures the vitality of the sculptures in a group, an individual sculpture or an exquisite eye-catching detail, such as the mane of a horse, a human foot, the swish of drapery or a youthful head bowed in…


The Leopard

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Book cover of The Leopard

E. M. Forster famously described Lampedusa’s solitary work as “one of the great lonely books.” It is a masterpiece that simultaneously captures both the peculiarity of Sicily within the experience of the wars of Italian Unification while brilliantly portraying characters confronting universal human emotions of love, loss, and struggle in times of momentous change. Lampedusa based the book’s protagonist, the Prince of Salina, on his own grandfather. The story, told in a series of episodes across half a century, while fictionalized, captures the essential elements of the birth of the modern Italian state, the rise of a new class of elites at the expense of the old, landed aristocracy, and the often-fraught attempt to create a unified Italian identity. There is a well-known film with Burt Lancaster in the starring role along with Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale that really evokes the visual power of the subject, but the book…

The Leopard

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Leopard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Leopard is a modern classic which tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution.

'There is a great feeling of opulence, decay, love and death about it' Rick Stein

In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of acres and hundreds of people, including his own numerous family, in mingled splendour and squalor. Then comes Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the Prince must decide whether to resist the forces of change or come to terms with them.

'Every once in a…


The Greek Revolution

By Mark Mazower,

Book cover of The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe

There is no better scholar of modern Greece than Mark Mazower and his latest work on the Greek Revolution is a tour de force. As the title suggests, Mazower explores how the Greek Revolution, based on the “new politics” of national identity, overthrew Ottoman imperialism and established the world’s first true nation-state. The Greek Revolution gives us all the famous characters from 1821 in detail: Koloktronis, the brigand turned general who became a national hero. Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the Pasha of Egypt who dreamed of conquering Greece for himself. Ioannis Kapodistrias was a brilliant diplomat who became the first Greek head of state only to be murdered by his own people. And George Byron, the poet, turned adventurer, turned financer of the Greek Revolution who died of fever while campaigning for Greek freedom. At the same time, the book analyzes more universal characteristics of revolutions: their fundamental link…

The Greek Revolution

By Mark Mazower,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Greek Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the exhausted, repressive years that followed Napoleon's defeat in 1815, there was one cause that came to galvanize countless individuals across Europe and the United States: freedom for Greece.

Mark Mazower's wonderful new book recreates one of the most compelling, unlikely and significant events in the story of modern Europe. In the face of near impossible odds, the people of the villages, valleys and islands of Greece rose up against Sultan Mahmud II and took on the might of the imperial Ottoman armed forces, its Turkish cavalrymen, Albanian foot soldiers and the fearsome Egyptians. Despite the most terrible disasters,…


The Golden Ass

By Apuleius, Sarah Ruden (translator),

Book cover of The Golden Ass

The narrator is turned into a donkey and undergoes various tribulations before recovering his human form. The only Latin novel to survive complete, it is a unique curiosity shop of diverse treasures: fantastical, comic, bawdy, beautiful, violent, and finally—biggest surprise of alldevoutly religious. "It smells of incense and urine," Flaubert said. Much of the work consists of tales related by the characters whom the donkey comes across, of which the longest is Cupid and Psyche, a fabulously rococo display of exquisite and enchanted storytelling. The virtuoso beauty of the description of Cupid’s wings is unbeatable. "Reader, listen up: you’ll love it," says the narrator at the start. You will. Again, go for Ruden’s translation.

The Golden Ass

By Apuleius, Sarah Ruden (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Golden Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed poet and translator Sarah Ruden brilliantly brings Apuleius's comic tale to life

"A rollicking ride well worth the fare, . . . marvelously, sidesplittingly ridiculous. . . . It's a story, not a homily, and Sarah Ruden has re-bestowed it with artful aplomb."-Tracy Lee Simmons, National Review

"A cause for celebration. . . . We owe Sarah Ruden a great debt of thanks for [this] English translation that is no less inventive, varied, and surprising than the original."-G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books

With accuracy, wit, and intelligence, this remarkable new translation of The Golden Ass breathes…


Freedom and Death

By Nikos Kazantzakes,

Book cover of Freedom and Death

Kazantzakis is perhaps most famous for being excommunicated after he wrote The Last Temptation of Christ, but I think his best book is Freedom and Death. Freedom and Death was described as Kazantzakis’ “modern Iliad,” but it is more than a tale of heroes and war. It is about the struggle of the Cretan people for liberty and their desire to end the Ottoman occupation of their island at the end of the 19th century. In spite of the obvious morality of the cause of freedom, Kazantzakis paints a complex picture in which there are no obvious heroes and humanity’s faults are clearly visible. No character is more noble than the Turk, Nuri Bey. None more flawed than the novel’s Greek protagonist, Captain Michalis. Freedom and Death is also the powerful story of a man’s struggle against himself and the conflict between our personal interests and our…

Freedom and Death

By Nikos Kazantzakes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freedom and Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Freedom and Death


The Symposium

By Plato, Christopher Gill (editor),

Book cover of The Symposium

The participants at a drinking party disclose their ideas about love: a doctor is a bit pompous, Aristophanes tells a wacky pseudo-myth, Socrates unveils ‘the truth about love,’ which has supposedly been revealed to him by a priestess. "Plato was mad," an eminent scholar told me once. "But he was a genius." "Maybe, but a mad genius." Well, the Platonic theory of love does seem miles from our own experience, but there are extraordinary insights along the way—into the creative impulse, sexuality, and human psychology. It may have influenced Freud. It is also a literary treat, with details that you would expect more in a novel than a work of philosophy. And after Socrates seems to have wrapped things up, Alcibiades crashes in tipsy …

The Symposium

By Plato, Christopher Gill (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Symposium as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Perhaps the most entertaining work of philosophy ever written ... the first really systematic and serious attempt to say what love is' John Armstrong, Guardian

In the course of a lively drinking party, a group of Athenian intellectuals exchange views on eros, or desire. From their conversation emerges a series of subtle reflections on gender roles, sex in society and the sublimation of basic human instincts. The discussion culminates in a radical challenge to conventional views by Plato's mentor, Socrates, who advocates transcendence through spiritual love. The Symposium is a deft interweaving of different viewpoints and ideas about the nature…


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