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The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece - Softcover

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9781400078851: The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece
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The Spartans were a society of warrior-heroes who were the living exemplars of such core values as duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, and extreme toughness. This book, written by one of the world's leading experts on Sparta, traces the rise and fall of Spartan society and explores the tremendous influence the Spartans had on their world and even on ours. Paul Cartledge brings to life figures like legendary founding father Lycurgus and King Leonidas, who embodied the heroism so closely identified with this unique culture, and he shows how Spartan women enjoyed an unusually dominant and powerful role in this hyper-masculine society. Based firmly on original sources, The Spartans is the definitive book about one of the most fascinating cultures of ancient Greece.

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Review:
Send the SAS to pick flowers and the Marines to knit mittens, because the Spartans could have 'em for breakfast. In The Spartans: An Epic History, the book of the Channel 4 series, Paul Cartledge paints a vivid picture of one of the most extreme civilisations ever known--one whose ethos married the highest levels of societal and philosophical advancement with the most repressive and warlike of regimes. These ancient Greeks lived, breathed and slept "hard". They also happened to influence much of subsequent Western civilisation.

The perfect warriors, they lived to fight, and when they weren't fighting, they were training to fight. Their male children were brutally raised, and weak or deformed infants were mercilessly cast from cliff tops. Yet they were unusually egalitarian in their treatment of women, and embraced an intensely partisan social ethic. They enslaved much of the rest of Greece, yet provided the spark for Athenian Democracy. It is this apparently contradictory duality that continues to fascinate and that has since engendered concepts as diverse as Hitler's system of negative eugenics and Thomas More's notion of Utopia.

The Spartans, though accessible, is an accomplished academic work--you'd hardly expect anything else, Cartledge having already written 20 books on the subject. But without the window dressing of the TV show's stunning Grecian locations and its thinking-man's eye-candy presenter Bettany Hughes, this can seem a little dry--anyone expecting the latest glossy picture-filled Time Team-style coffee-table book is likely to be disappointed. If you're partial to a bit of accessible erudition, however, then it would be foolish to look this gift horse in the mouth. --Paul Eisinger

Review:
"Cartledge displays a marvelous ability to make the readers care about the Laconic warriors . . . and the society that shaped them." --USA Today

"Cartledge brings [the Spartans] to life again with verve [and] style." --Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"The history and atmosphere of Sparta are well conveyed by Cartledge." --The New York Review of Books

"A fine overview of the rise and fall of a singular culture, spiced with anecdotes, quotations, brisk summary, and real insight." --Seattle Times

"The Spartans presented in this book could change the popular image of ancient history, making it more compelling and accessible." --The Times Literary Supplement

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  • PublisherVintage
  • Publication date2004
  • ISBN 10 1400078857
  • ISBN 13 9781400078851
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages320
  • Rating
    3.8 avg rating
    ( 2,813 ratings by Goodreads )

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9781447237204: The Spartans: An Epic History

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