Life During Wartime

The Athenian soldier, philosopher, and historian Xenophon chronicled the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, wrote apologetics for Socrates, and dealt with a diverse array of other subjects in a plain, powerful prose that won him the sobriquet “The Attic Muse.” His best-known work, however, is his Anabasis. The book is a memoir of his time as a commander of the Ten Thousand — the Greek mercenary force assembled by the Persian king Cyrus the Younger to depose his brother Artaxerxes II — and his hair-raising adventures after the mission ends in disaster as he and his men battle their way back to Greece. Here, the critically acclaimed novelist and decorated combat veteran Elliot Ackerman explains why this story still resonates, and the disturbing  lessons it holds for contemporary America.

A western army marches to within sixty kilometers of Baghdad. Their leader, the youngest son of a great ruler, has gathered them to oust the current regime. They face a large irregular force. A pitched battle is fought. The result is inconclusive. …

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