The Bottom Line
The Battle of Salamis was fought by various Greek city-states against the Persian Empire, which included Persians, Medes, Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Greeks under the leadership of Xerxes. It was a battle of a rich, giant empire against small, impoverished, disjointed, feuding political entities. It looked like a sure bet for the Persians, but, as Barry Strauss shows, it was precisely the strengths of the Persian Empire and its fleet that worked against it in the Battle of Salamis.
- Connects the lives of major figures in the history of the Persian Wars
- Interprets events and military conditions.
- Not too technical.
- Takes a long time getting to the topic.
- Jumps around.
- Doesn't justify the subtitle.
- Describes the role Herodotus of Halicarnassus played in recording the Battle of Salamis.
- Strauss infuses the main characters of his military drama with flesh and blood.
- He explains many of the terms connected with Greek warfare.
- Shows how squabbling between Greek city-states almost caused the failure of the strategy at Salamis.
- In depth look at preceding events including the evacuation of Athens.
- Explains naval warfare, ramming ships, and the following melee.
- Presents a look at the social structures of the Persians and some of the Greek city-states.
Guide Review - The Battle of Salamis Review
After a full day's battle at Salamis, on September 25, 480 B.C., the Persian King Xerxes was not overwhelmed, although clearly he had not been the victor. That the Great King decided to leave the straits of Salamis and return to other areas of his empire that were more important meant that the Greeks had decisively won the Battle of Salamis. Many Greeks died in the naval battle, but only a fraction of the number of Persian (and allied) casualties. Unlike the heavily armored Persians, the Greeks could swim, Strauss says, and so survive the destruction of a ship -- provided they could first make it out past the arrows and swords of enemy combatants. The Battle of Salamis was won mostly by trickery and psychological games. Even Artemisia (a member of the "Spartan rogues' gallery"), the Queen of Halicarnassus, a Persian ally, came out ahead only through treachery. Barry Strauss shows how the very factors that seemed to be an advantage to the Persians turned out to be fatal flaws. By interpreting the words of Herodotus, Barry Strauss shows the various possible strategies that might have been used by the Greeks to defeat the Persian forces. In "The Battle of Salamis The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece - and Western Civilization," Barry Strauss details the physical conditions of the fighters and breathes life into the major characters, all without resorting to gruesome detail.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.