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Expedition to Disaster (Kindle)

The Athenian Mission to Sicily 415 BC

Ancient History Military

By Philip Matyszak
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 2.6 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781783036264
eBook Released: 22nd October 2012


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The Athenian expedition to conquer Sicily was one of the pivotal events of the classical period. At this time (415 BC), Athens was locked in a decades-long struggle with Sparta for mastery of the Greek world. The expedition to Sicily was intended to give Athens the extra money and resources to crush the Spartans. New archaeological discoveries allow the ensuing siege to be reconstructed in greater detail than ever before.

The cast of characters includes Alcibiades, the flamboyant, charismatic young aristocrat; Nicias, the ageing, reluctant commander of the ill-fated expedition and Gylippus, the grim Spartan general sent to mastermind the defence of Syracuse. It was he who stopped the Athenians dead in their tracks within weeks of his arrival, then turned the tables on the invaders. The Athenians were in their turn surrounded, besieged, and forced to ask for mercy from a man who had none to give.

In short, we have an epic story packed with colourful characters and dramatic episodes. There are battles on land and sea, siege and counter-siege and tales of self-sacrifice, villainy and heroism. Yet there is also the over-arching unifying theme which is the story of the expedition itself. Philip Matyszak's combination of thorough research and gripping narrative makes him the perfect man to do justice to this famous story.

It is easily accessible to a broader audience… demonstrates the Athenian hubris and invokes the motif of Nemesis, a recurring theme not only in Matyzak’s work… He uses a modern and easily understandable translation… He paints a lively and believable picture of their characters… In his lively, witty and highly enjoyable prose, Matyszak then goes on to describe the history of events… he touches every relevant event ... he strives to give his readers a clear picture of the situations and interests of the other parties involved in the conflict… the reader gains a little insight into fascinating subjects… a pleasure to read… intelligently composed, well – paced and dramatic account of this important side – theatre.

Ancient Warfare

Philip Matyszak, Professor of Ancient History, provides a riveting account of the conflict, telling of the key players, their motivations, their heroism, their failure, providing an educating narrative that does much to bring much understanding to the people of the times. “Expedition to Disaster” is a must for history collections focusing on the Greeks and their military endeavours.

The Midwest Book Review

About Philip Matyszak

Dr Philip 'Maty' Matyszak has a doctorate in ancient history from St John's College, Oxford University and has been studying, teaching and writing on the subject for the past twenty years. He specializes in ancient Rome, especially the Late Republic and Early Imperial periods, and his previous works include the best-selling Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day, Ancient Greece on Five Drachmae a Day and, for Pen & Sword, Mithridates the Great: Rome's Indomitable Enemy (2008) and Roman Conquests: Greece and Macedon (2009). He has personal military experience both as a conscript in Africa and with the territorial army in Britain, and he splits his time between writing in his home in Canada's Rocky Mountains and providing distant learning courses at Cambridge University.

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