Ancient Hoplites

Ancient Hoplites

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Review of "Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the Agoge"

Master Gunner "Blue 7" posted the following review of Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the Agoge on amazon. He gave the book five stars as well!

Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the AgogeI made the mistake of watching the movie "300" before reading Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire," one of he most inspiring books I have ever read (so good, in fact, that I got 35 copies of the book for my platoon to read and keep.) One of the best draws of the Spartan legacy is the incredible value they placed on small-unit team-building and self-reliance. In Gates, Pressfield takes a good look at the upbringing of Spartan youths within the agoge, and how the training led to incredible acts of heroism and sacrifice at the Battle of Thermopylae.

Which brings me to this book.

Helena Schrader looks even deeper into the agoge system, and personalizes it even further by showing us through the eyes not of a freeborn helot youth (as in Pressfield's case) but through the eyes of Leonidas himself.  This book is everything: political intrigue,inter-family jealousy, and teen angst.  But most importantly, it's well-researched and moredetailed than anything else I havee read on Sparta. (And I've read Herodotus!) Schrader takes research by historians, who have "reverse engineered" (sorry, but it's the closest word I can think of to what I mean) the Spartan agoge by studying the Roman version, which was based on the Spartan system.  Taking into account the different terrain (Sparta vs Rome), different governmeent and beliefs (though not incredibly dissimilar), different time periods, and clues in writings by Greek historians, my guess is that this is probably more accurate than most.

Finally, sprinkled throughout the book are important themes of self-reliance, and self-determination, respect for laws and traditions, and the importance of comraderie.

I whole-heartedly suggest this book for anyone looking for inspiration in team-building, a curiosity about Sparta life, or just a great book to lose yourself in.

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