“Dunno”, says I. “I have a hankering for something 30 Years War ish, or Napoleonic, or maybe even Malburian or the American War of Independence.”
“Yeah”, says Anthony, “or maybe Saxons versus Vikings, after all, Napoleonics is just like American Civil War wargaming with more uniforms and squares.”
“Greeks” he then said! “Let’s do Greeks or Romans. The Peloponnesian War, that’s what we should do.”
“OK” says Thomo thinking to himself “we are doing American Civil War at the moment which has two sides very similar, Greeks versus Greeks, much the same. I wonder if we can call the Isthmus of Corinth the Mason-Dixon line?”
So, I needed to start to think about Greeks. Would it have been the Spartans or the evil Empire (Athens). I wanted reference works and one or two good planning sessions. Out came the electronic version of Thucydides, something to read again on the Kindle on the flight back to Australia.
Just before leaving Singapore for Australia, I noticed that Osprey had just released Campaign 239, Plataea 479 BC, written by William Shepherd and illustrated by Peter Dennis. William had been good enough in December 2010 to send me a copy of Salamis 480 BC – the Naval Campaign That Saved Greece for review. Apart from being stimulated by that read, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read in any case.
So, I think I should get a copy of Plataea I thought to myself. Whilst it is not a Greek versus Greek affair as such, it was perhaps the catalyst that gave rise to the actions that resulted in Athens becoming an empire and as such, facilitating the start of the Peloponnesian Wars. I thought, then, that I would order Shepherd’s Plataea but it was time to travel back to Australia so never got around to it.
What a lovely surprise then when a parcel arrived in the post today – a review copy of Plataea provided by William (thank you sir).
Plataea itself was one of the largest land battles in the Ancient World with around 100,000 Greeks taking on a larger number eastern forces, members of the Persian Empire and including some more Greeks. The battle lasted over several days and at the end the Persian threat to Greece was at an end. The Athenians in particular used this campaign as an excuse to take the struggle to Asia Minor and ultimately led to the development of the Athenian Empire.
Herodotus is the main source for the battle and campaign. Whilst perhaps not as accurate as Thucydides later, Herodotus is credited with being the father of history and he tells a fine story
Shepherd has a very clear writing style and is easy to read. Peter Dennis’s illustrations really bring this battle alive and it has certainly provided a great inspiration to me for the next great wargames project in Singapore … but more of that later. I am really looking forward to reading this book and as I have an 8-hour flight to Singapore coming up in 10 days time, I know what I will be reading on the plane.
Once I have read it, I’ll provide a more in depth review of the book and publish that here as well.
In the meantime, here are the details of the book:
Author: William Shepherd
Illustrator: Peter Dennis
The Contents are:
- Origins of the campaign
- Opposing commanders
- Opposing forces
- Opposing plans
- The campaign to Plataea and Mycale
- After the battles
- The battlefields today
- Further reading and bibliography
It is released as a paperback; January 2012; 96 pages; ISBN: 9781849085540