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The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece-and Western Civilization

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  680 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
On a late September day in 480 B.C., Greek warships faced an invading Persian armada in the narrow Salamis Straits in the most important naval battle of the ancient world. Overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy, the Greeks triumphed through a combination of strategy and deception. More than two millennia after it occurred, the clash between the Greeks and Persians at Sala ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2004)
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Description: On a late September day in 480 B.C., Greek warships faced an invading Persian armada in the narrow Salamis Straits in the most important naval battle of the ancient world. Overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy, the Greeks triumphed through a combination of strategy and deception. More than two millennia after it occurred, the clash between the Greeks and Persians at Salamis remains one of the most tactically brilliant battles ever fought. The Greek victory changed the course of we
More like 3.5. Fascinating and well written summary of the Battle of Salamis, a crucial Greek naval win in the Greco-Persian War of the 400s B.C. The author has made this narrative interesting and not too scholarly for the general reader such as myself. We are informed as to the causes of the war, important battles up to that time {Artemesium--naval battle ending in a draw] and Thermopylae, the Spartans' "last stand" in spite of treachery and overwhelming odds. Then there are the factors leading ...more
Apr 14, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intensely detailed account of the sea battle between the quasi-united Greeks, officially under a Spartan commander but heavily influenced by the strategy of Athenian Themistocles, and Xerxes’ tremendously more numerous army. Strauss follows Herodotus and other sources, accepting them as reliable for the most part, but sweetening the account with hundreds of details from modern scholarship about the prevailing winds, manners of dress, the physical requirements of rowing a trireme, and so forth ...more
May 31, 2016 Rindis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle
Barry Strauss has written a very accessible account of the second time the Greeks fought off the Persian Empire. He spends a good amount of time on the background: the Ionian revolt, the general configuration of the Persian court, etc. Along the way, we good descriptions of triremes, the geography, and the backgrounds of many of the important people. So it's was a little surprising that he spends so little time and descriptive power on Marathon and (while talking about the aftermath) Plataea. Bu ...more
I read this in anticipation of 300: Rise of an Empire. I studied Classics in college, so I went into this book with a knowledge advantage.

An overview of the Battle of Salamis with appropriate framing (Ionian Revolt to Artemisium/Thermopylae through the Persian retreat). Strauss draws heavily upon Herodotus and Aeschylus. While his extensive notes and source discussion at the end of the book lists works discussing the accuracy of these accounts, there is little discussion in the actual book, sug
Steven Peterson
Jul 10, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barry Strauss' The Battle of Salamis provides a good rendering of this important sea battle that turned back the invasion of Greece, led by Persian King Xerxes. After breaking through the defensive position of the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Persian army then moved southward and sacked Athens. All that stood between Xerxes and the taking of Greece was the Greek fleet.

This book begins with a description of the basic ship, the trireme, to help provide the reader with some context. Also, the even
Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, europe
Mr. Strauss, in this book, describes the events and personalities that surround one of the greatest naval battles in the ancient world. And yet, this book is more than that. Despite it's short page count, this is perhaps one of the best summations of the Persian-Greek War of 480 B.C. Mr. Strauss builds up the tension in the first half of the book by describing both the Greek and Persian strategies and battles that led up to Salamis. He interweaves court and democratic politics, religion, and his ...more
Dec 20, 2015 JJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Went down like a watered-down Diet Coke; another book that should have been fifty pages but was not, because, as someone once told me, "They don't sell essays."

I should have just read Aeschylus:
At first the flood of the Persian host
Held firm.
But when the mass of ships
Crowded into the straits, there was no help for one ship from another,
In fact they were struck by their own bronze-mouthed rams,
And the whole oared armada began to shatter.
Jan 20, 2014 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting stuff, and generally well written. Unfortunately, it should have been about a third of it's final length. Strauss repeats himself frequently, and his desire to get into deep, speculative detail ends up lessening credibility. This was a well written book than just had too much of itself.
Mar 21, 2015 Gregory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding look at a critical battle in the history of western civilization. Very well researched and equally well-written it gives us a glimpse into the personalities who had a disproportionate influence on the development of western civilization.
Terry McCarthy
Mar 21, 2010 Terry McCarthy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it, but then I'm horribly partial to this stuff. Not particularly nuanced but an accurate and riveting account. It won't take you two months and a history PHD to finish it, either.
Arapahoe Libraries
Thsi book is not about food. It is instead the story of a naval battle between Greek and Persian forces, the result of which was the Athenian empire
C.W. Roe
TL/DR: X-Posted review I wrote for Amazon a number of years ago. I liked the book.

"The Battle of Salamis" by Barry Strauss is an excellent source of information about an important naval encounter that occurred between the Persian Empire and the Greeks in 480 B.C. This review will discuss the content of the text, extrapolate the main themes that are offered to the reader, and finally shall critique the sources of information that the author employed throughout his study.

The naval battle that occu
Nov 22, 2016 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barry Strauss is a master of the “you are there” style of popular historical writing. His books are accessible and gripping narratives about discrete historical episodes, including Spartacus, the Trojan War, and the death of Caesar. I’m a fan, of course. I’ve read most of his books, and I’m working on finishing the rest. “The Battle of Salamis” was the first popular book written by Strauss, and it well deserves the praise often heaped on it.

Salamis (an island just southeast of Athens) was, of co
Joe White
Jan 11, 2015 Joe White rated it really liked it
Goodreads review: The Battle Of Salamis -- Barry Strauss
4 stars

The book has an excellent reference section which I think is reason enough to have the book.

The author's write-up of subject topics within this historical setting appears to be largely a distillation of the reference sources. It is written in a prosaic narrative style directed to a reader who is not a historical specialist - in other words the author strived to make history a colorful relevant topic to the average reader, and
Matthew Dambro
Feb 02, 2017 Matthew Dambro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Professor Strauss has written an excellent introduction to the second phase of the Persian invasion of Greece, with an emphasis on the naval battle at Salamis. The research is impeccable and the writing style is fluid and accessible. Thoroughly enjoyable at all levels; I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the period.
Sarah Bierle
Mar 17, 2017 Sarah Bierle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Amazingly well-written, it relies on historical and ancient cultural details/norms to help the characters and scenes come to life. It addresses the challenges of studying and writing ancient history, and explains the rivalries which led to different accounts of Salamis in Greek texts.

I wasn't sure if I'd like this book; it's been a while since I've read about ancient history and sometimes I struggle with the names of historical figures in ancient empires. However, I couldn't put it down!
Dean Hamilton
Nov 04, 2012 Dean Hamilton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Stifling in the August heat, even at night, Artermisium is a hub of activity. Seen by the light of bonfires, fifty thousand men are at work: here racing to patch damaged equipment, there hauling the bodies of the dead onto pyres, at one point filling water jugs and wineskins at the sprint, at another point leaving messages as disinformation for the enemy, who is close behind them. Some men are buckling on bronze helmets, others are tightening the leather straps of the arrow cases they carry on ...more
Feb 26, 2017 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
I try to read everything Barry Strauss writes because I not only learn something, but I am entertained as well. The Battle of Salamis is another excellent example of Strauss' ability to weave together what is know of the battle and bring the context and characters to life.
Jan 17, 2011 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To the layman the Persian-Greek war consisted of only a few very important battles when in reality it consisted of many. One of the most underrated of these unknown encounters is the battle that took place in the Salamis straits between the island of that same name and the Attica coastline. Instead of focusing on the popular battles of Thermopylae or Marathon, Barry Strauss gives us an in depth snapshot of the days leading up to that late September day in 480 B.C. along with a detailed account o ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: extended-reviews
True rating: 4.5 stars.

A very readable reconstruction of the events leading up to and including the battle that, arguably, saved Western civilization. It certainly contributed to the saving of ancient Greece. Being a reconstruction that, by necessity, is based on conflicting and occasionally unreliable, ancient sources, means that many of the battle details and strategy must be taken with a grain of salt. Strauss is aware of this, however, and frequently reminds the reader that he is presenting
Jul 10, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Western or Greek history
This book focuses on the three weeks between the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Salamis, possibly the most important time period in world history. This was the decisive month in the Persian War, when the Greeks, led by Athens and Sparta, defeated the most powerful empire the world had yet known, Xerxes' Persian Empire. Had this month gone differently, the Persians would likely have wiped out the Greeks, and thus destroyed Western Civilization in its cradle.

The book is extensively footno
Társis Salvatore
O livro tem uma descrição envolvente. Strauss investiga e pondera detalhes que fizeram de uma batalha naval praticamente perdida, uma vitória que rechaçou a tentativa de dominação Persa e livrou a maioria das cidades estado (que formavam a Liga de Delos) de serem subjulgadas pelo Rei Xerxes, o Rei dos Reis.
Dai dizer que essa batalha salvou o futuro da civilização ocidental?
Acho que é bem possível, já que a democracia ateniense esteve ameaçada (Atenas foi incendiada, embora a população tenha si
Nayan Nitesh
Dec 09, 2016 Nayan Nitesh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book is an amazing take on the Persia Vs. Greece battle which took place in the waters of Salamis many, many years ago. Thermopylae had just ensued and the famed, though doomed, resistance put up by the 300 incredibly brave Spartan warriors had galvanised the Greek forces into rising above their petty diplomatic squables and uniting as one to take on the far mightier(at least in number) Persian forces. The book also confirms a number of anecdotes which can be found in the movie '300 ...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Feb 28, 2016 Leonardo Etcheto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tied together a lot of loose threads in my head. Half remembered history and assumptions were cleared up and corrected for me. The preparation, sacrifice and determination that went into winning the war against Persia is elucidated in a delightfully clear and interesting manner in this book. He does a good job of telling the story, warts and all for both sides. The ironies abound, but the power of having citizens fight for their own freedom is the key force multiplier that defeated an ...more
Mar 16, 2014 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014
This book was a very well researched and readable book on the importance of the Battle of Salamis. I enjoyed Strauss' comparison of Salamis to Gettysburg - very astute!

Strauss' prose is imaginative and easy to read. He attempts to bring the important historical players to life with many fictionalized hooks and introductions into each chapter. At times his figurative fictions tend towards the circuitous and often become extremely repetitive. He leads you on tangents that go on for pages before f
Timothy Bertolet
Aug 01, 2011 Timothy Bertolet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent account of the Battle of Salamis, the events leading up to it, the day itself and the aftermath.

Barry Strauss is judicious in his accounting of the historical facts coupled with weighing good vs. bad speculation about the events. He does a good job of filling in the background for those unfamilar with Greek history and places the battle in light of its larger historical significance.

Give excellent backround on the Greek Triremes. Paints a picture of Themistocles as the mastermind behin
Bookmarks Magazine

Leading historians, respected educators, and fellow authors agree: Strauss's account of this epic battle is a superbly told, historically accurate narrative of one of the most intriguing and dramatic showdowns in naval history. The author, a professor of history and classics at Cornell University, draws on recent work in archaeology, meteorology, and forensic science as well as his own rowing experience to enrich readers' understanding of naval history and ancient culture. A few reviewers found

Feb 07, 2014 Sineala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about Greek military history, so I thought that this book would be a good place to begin. I don't know that it's the ideal starting place, but the author clearly knows and loves his subject and spent a good deal of time laying out the basics so that even someone who knows nothing (i.e., me) can appreciate what's going on here. It gets a little dry in places, but the sheer scope of it is impressive, and all the anecdotes throughout liven it up a lot.

I am glad I read this if only
Thrilling retelling of an epic battle between Persia and Greece where one side ingeniously won against terrific odds (I won’y spoil it for you, but many of us enjoy gyros because a certain side survived). Strauss is quite the scholar but puts you in the middle of the scene at the beginning of each chapter. He relies almost entirely on the writings of Herodotus who, if he were alive today, would be writing long-form pieces for the Times and snagging multiple Pulitzers. This book got a little tedi ...more
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Barry Strauss is the chair of the history department, and a professor of classics, at Cornell University.
More about Barry S. Strauss...

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