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Publisher's Summary

The Spartans of ancient Greece were a powerful and unique people, radically different from any civilization before or since. A society of warrior-heroes, they were living exemplars of self-sacrifice, community endeavor, and achievement against all odds, qualities that today signify the ultimate in heroism. Scholars even believe that Thomas More had Sparta specifically in mind when he coined the term "Utopia".

Paul Cartledge, widely considered the world's leading expert on Sparta, engagingly examines the rise and fall of this singular society. In a narrative that resounds with the battle cries of the ancient Greeks, he takes a compelling look at the many illustrious Spartan figures from the worlds of history and legend, including Lycurgus, Lysander, King Leonidas, and Helen of Troy and Sparta.

©2002, 2003 Paul Cartledge; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Engaging...Cartledge cloaks his erudition with an ease and enthusiasm." (Booklist)
"A fine overview of the rise and fall of a singular culture, spiced with anecdotes, quotations, brisk summary, and real insight." (Seattle Times)
"Remarkable...Cartledge's crystalline prose, his vivacious storytelling and his lucid historical insights combine here to provide a first-rate history of the Spartans." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

requires full attention

In school, we would have considered this a "tough read" because it's so historical. With that understanding, I would recommend this book for its detail and fact.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 10-22-07

Not a place to go to learn about the Spartans

While this book is obviously meticulously researched and painstakingly compiled, it is lacking in audio format, for the simple reason that it is extremely difficult to follow. The narration is well-done, but the story is hard to follow, lacks flow, and seems to be much more of a "scholarly history" without the narrative touch that makes history come alive in other audio books that I have enjoyed. I can't recommend this one.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Euryleia
  • Buena Park, CA United States
  • 01-18-08

Not for idle listening

This was very good, with interesting subject matter and good narration, but it requires your full attention if you are going to be able to follow it. This is a history, not a historical novel or novelized history, and if your mind wanders while you are listening then you wind up being completely lost.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Well written and well read

Prof Cartledge is a well known scholar of Ancient Greece. I first noticed him as a relatively frequent guest on the BBC radio program "In Our Time" (which I listen to on podcast). He seemed like a very knowledgeable person who also had the ability to sum up complex situations and relationships between Greek poleis (plural form of polis or "city-state") in a way that was entertaining and memorable without talking down to his audience.

These characteristics are on display here min "The Spartans." Cartledge gives us a chronological overview of Sparta as well a sharply drawn portrait of this very unusual society. It is just the right length to be a fully developed work, but not so involved that it feels like wading through minutia.

Narrator John Lee has a busy career in audio books, and seems to be a reliable reader for works dealing with the classical world. His pronunciation is spot-on almost all of the time and he varies his pacing and rhythm in a way that shows he is understanding the material and attempting to communicate the meaning of the sentences the author has written.

Overall a fantastic experience, one which I will definitely return to after a suitable period of time, to enjoy once again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Strength in the history.

I was not sure how I would like listening to a history book. Many facts and name and various clarifications. I think the key is that I was interested to begin with. This people are fascinating and this book gave me what I needed....the facts.
I feel that whatever your vision of this culture is going in, you won't be disappointed as the author unfolds the real strength and tragedy of the people called SPARTANS.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A good history but not too entertaining.

I guess whenever you hear of the Spartans you just assume it's going to be about their battles. This book is an encompassing look about their history and not just their battles won.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Big Guy
  • woodstock, GA, United States
  • 10-23-07

Who says history can not be boring

`And it drones on and on. Flat as a pancake.

8 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Barely talks about Spartan lore

I purchased this book hoping to learn about Spartan culture and customs. Instead the book mainly talks about Spartan government and their interaction with other governments. I was extremely disappointed.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful