Review: Thermopylae by in60Learning

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I don’t read a lot of non-fiction though I’d like to get into more, so I was thrilled when in60Learning reached out to me for the chance to read one of their books!

They have a really neat way of approaching history that I think is super accessible for all kinds of readers so I wanted to share a little about the company below along with my review.

The Battle of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans and the Forgotten Citizen-Soldiers Who Fought with Them by in60Learning
Genre:
History | Non-fiction

Most people know about the Battle of Thermopylae, even if they don’t recognize the name. During the second Persian invasion of Greece, 300 Spartans fought against Xerxes I’s forces on a narrow mountain pass. With such cinematic details, no wonder this sensational battle inspired the blockbuster film 300. However, both the film and popular imagination miss many important details about this battle. This concise history sheds light on the thousands of Greek citizen-soldiers who fought alongside the Spartans, forever changing the course of Greek identity and nationhood.

Buy it from Amazon!

The Company: in60Learning has a really cool approach to learning history. Each book in their collection is a short little look into some historical event or person (and some more modern figures as well) that promises to take you no longer than 60 minutes to read (I can attest to this from my own experience). They’ve got a pretty wide collection and are working on adding more – as well as audiobooks! – so you can very quickly pick up beginner knowledge on a topic you’re interested in but maybe haven’t had the time to sit down and read for hours about.

You can sign up for in60Learning’s LearningList here for free books and updates on all their new releases, or visit their website above for more info!

The Book: I chose to read this book on the “well-known” (at least the movie version is well-known) battle between the Spartans and the Persians. As well as giving a rundown of the actual battle itself, and the battles leading up to it, the authors (? not sure exactly who writes these) also included a history of Greece and its city-states, focusing especially on Athens and Sparta. It was a really nice refresher from when I’d first learned about Ancient Greece in my grade 8 class, so some things I went “oh yeah!”, though there were also quite a lot of new sides I hadn’t heard before. I also took a course on Classical Greece in university so Herodotus and Plutarch were familiar names (not to worry if you don’t know those, they’re introduced in the book).

Obviously, don’t go into this as a way of getting everything you need to know about a subject. This one came in under 40 pages and you’re not going to get the whole history of Greece from such a short book. BUT I think it works really well as a stepping stone, especially if you’re coming in new to a subject, so you can whet your appetite and use the resources they provide if you’d like to learn more (they included a bibliography!! A+ in my books).

One point on sourcing though was that while a bibliography was provided and these sources were often noted throughout the book, there were some quotes at the beginning of each chapter that, while often attributed to a person, didn’t come with a full citation. I don’t know exactly where the quotes came from, whether they are included in the bibliography or not, but it would’ve been really easy to hook these up with footnotes like the other quoted material were given. Also, some of the sources used from the book were from (ancient but not that ancient) Greek historians – which was good! – but I felt they didn’t explain who they were besides “historians”. Giving some background as to where they were from and the time they were writing would be really helpful in understanding their perspectives.


Thank you again to in60Learning for the chance to review this book! There’s lots of cool stuff in their collection – more on Greek history, Egyptian history, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Jackie O – so you’ve got lots to choose from!

What are some of your recent non-fiction reads? Let me know below!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

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11 thoughts on “Review: Thermopylae by in60Learning

  1. Pingback: My Name TBR Books Tag – The Backwards Bookshelf

  2. I don’t read non-fiction often but I am liking the genre more and more. I have been hearing a lot about these quick and informative reads. They sound handy for someone like me. A non-fiction I really enjoyed was an autobiography called Illegal by John Dennehy!

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  3. That does sound like a great approach with the 60 mins thing! Like you said, it’s great as a stepping stone. There are a lot of topics I’d love to learn about, but I feel overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start, so it sounds like this would be great for that. I’m gonna go check out the site 🙂

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  4. I love concise histories that give me an overview and a massive bibliography. It can be such a great way to provide, as you say, a stepping stone. For that purpose, I also adore the Very Short Introduction series. They’re under 200 pages, usually between 120 and 160 on my Nook (I think the pages have more text in Nook pagination), so a bit longer than these. They’re conversational and interesting (and there are quite a few on ancient Greece).

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