Book Release for The Battle of Marathon by Peter Krentz

Title: The Battle of Marathon
Author: Peter Krentz
Publisher: Yale University Press
Date of Publication: September 2010
Language: English
ISBN: ISBN-10: 0300120850;
ISBN-13: 978-0300120851
Price: $18.15-$27.50
Description: hardcover, 230 pages
Availability: Yale University Press and large online booksellers such as and Book also available in digital format (although one online customer review indicated that maps and visual material were not included in the digital file).

Publishers' Description

How did the city-state of Athens defeat the invaders from Persia, the first world empire, on the plain of Marathon in 490 BCE? Clever scholars skeptical of our earliest surviving source, Herodotus, have produced one ingenious theory after another. In this stimulating new book, bound to provoke controversy, Peter Krentz argues that Herodotus was right after all.

Beginning his analysis with the Athenians’ first formal contact with the Persians in 507 BCE, Krentz weaves together ancient evidence with travelers’ descriptions, archaeological discoveries, geological surveys, and the experiences of modern reenactors and soldiers to tell his story.

Krentz argues that before Marathon the Athenian army fought in a much less organized way than the standard view of the hoplite phalanx suggests: as an irregularly armed mob rather than a disciplined formation of identically equipped infantry. At Marathon the Athenians equipped all their fighters, including archers and horsemen, as hoplites for the first time. Because their equipment weighed only half as much as is usually thought, the Athenians and their Plataean allies could charge almost a mile at a run, as Herodotus says they did. Krentz improves on this account in Herodotus by showing why the Athenians wanted to do such a risky thing.

Excerpts from Reviewers ( and HCS)

" How. . . [the Greeks] were able to . . . [run such a long] distance in their panoplies (a full set of armor) while rendering the hail of arrows from perhaps as many as 20,000 - 30,000 Persian archers/infantrymen ineffective is the crux of Professor Peter Krentz’s [new theory and] book. . . . Krentz, through analysis and reconstruction has determined that it was feasible."--John Trikeriotis, member of the archaeological group "The Leonidas Expeditions." Read full review by Trikeriotis.

"... a fitting memorial. Written with commendable clarity and good humour." --
Peter Jones, Telegraph (UK) []

"the best treatment of the battle now available . . . fast-paced and exciting without coming up short in scholarly rigor" --Matthew Sears, Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews []

"I love this book! It accomplishes so much at such short length. The Battle of Marathon is not only history but perhaps even literature, evoking the ancient experience elegiacally yet never unmoored from the evidence.”—Phyllis Culham, United States Naval Academy

"Historians, topographers, reenactors, and general readers alike will all be indebted to cutting-edge military historian Peter Krentz''s original, insightful, witty, provocative, and brilliantly illustrated account of one of the world''s most significant battles ever. ''Marathon'' is now not only a magic word but also a magical exercise in ancient historiography."—Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge

(Paul Cartledge )
"Peter Krentz has written a lucid account of how and why Persians and Athenians fought at Marathon and provides an insightful and very plausible description of the battle itself. Bravo!"—Robert B. Strassler, editor of the Landmark edition of Xenophon''s Hellenika

"Before Marathon was a race it was a battle, one of history''s greatest. Peter Krentz tells its true story in a brilliant blend of scholarship and common sense. His reconstruction is painstaking and often magical. From the force of Persian arrows to the weight of Greek armor, Krentz makes Marathon fresh and real."—Barry Strauss, author of The Battle of Salamis

"Do we need . . . more books [on the importance of Marathon]? The answer is emphatically ''yes,'' when the [book is] as good as [this]."--Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Dr. Peter Krentz is W.R. Gray Professor of Classics and History at Davidson College where he teaches courses in Classical history, ancient law, archaeology, and Classical Greek language. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Thirty at Athens, Polis and Polemos: Essays on Politics, War, and History in Ancient Greece, in Honor of Donald Kagan, Xenophon: Hellenica Books I-II.3.10, and Xenophon: Hellenica Book II.3.11-IV.2.8.

(Posting date 14 January 2011)

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