The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon and Its Impact on Western Civilization (Paperback)
“A compelling and provocative read . . . With a soldier’s eye, Jim Lacey re-creates the battle of Marathon in all its brutal simplicity.”—Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command
Marathon—one of history’s most pivotal battles. Its name evokes images of almost superhuman courage, endurance, and fighting spirit. In this eye-opening book, military analyst James Lacey takes a fresh look at Marathon and reveals why the battle happened, how it was fought, and whether, in fact, it saved Western civilization. Lacey brilliantly reconstructs the world of the fifth century B.C. leading up to the astonishing military defeat of the Persian Empire by the vastly undermanned Greek defenders. With the kind of vivid detail that characterizes the best modern war reportage, he shows how the heavily armed Persian army was shocked and demoralized by the relentless assault of the Athenian phalanx. He reveals the fascinating aftermath of Marathon, how its fighters became the equivalent of our “Greatest Generation,” and challenges the legacy and lessons that have often been misunderstood—perhaps, now more than ever, at our own peril.
Immediate, visceral, and full of new analyses that defy decades of conventional wisdom, The First Clash is a superb interpretation of a conflict that indeed made the world safe for Aristotle, Plato, and our own modern democracy.
“With a fresh eye to tactics, strategy, and military organization, and with his text grounded in direct experience of the troops on the battlefield, James Lacey gives us not only new understanding of how the Athenians managed to win but also a greater appreciation of the beginning of a long tradition of Western military dynamism that we take for granted today.”—Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture
“Lacey’s swords-and-shields approach will absorb readers ever fascinated by the famous battles of antiquity.”—Booklist
“A lively and rewarding read.”—Charleston Post and Courier
“Exemplary . . . Lacey, a veteran of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions and a professor at the Marine War College, brings to the tale of Marathon the practical experiences of the combat soldier and an intellectual sensibility.”—The New Criterion
About the Author
Jim Lacey was an active-duty military officer for twelve years in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division. Lacey is currently a professor of strategy, war, and policy at the Marine War College, and an adjunct professor in the Johns Hopkins National Security Program. He also works as a consultant on a number of projects for the United States military. Lacey has written for several publications, including the New York Post and The New York Sun, appears regularly in Military History magazine, and was an embedded journalist for Time magazine during the invasion of Iraq.
Praise for The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon and Its Impact on Western Civilization…
"On the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the battle of Marathon, defense analyst James Lacey has not only offered a fresh appraisal of the battle, but in a larger sense demonstrated how the Athenian victory established a precedent of Western military advantage for subsequent millennia. With a fresh eye to tactics, strategy, and military organization, grounded with direct experience with troops on the battlefield, the result is not only new understanding of how the Athenians managed to win, but also a greater appreciation of the beginning of a long tradition of Western military dynamism that we take for granted today."—Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture and The Western Way of War
“With a soldier’s eye, Jim Lacey recreates the Battle of Marathon in all its brutal simplicity. This compelling and provocative read makes a potent contribution to an enduring debate.”—Barry Strauss, author of The Battle of Salamis and Professor of History, Cornell University
“A lively and readable account of the battle of Marathon and its significance. Jim Lacey’s experience as a professional soldier gives it an added dimension, especially his ability to see the military situation from both sides.”—Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War