The Killing Ground

A Biography of Thermopylae

The Killing Ground cover

The Killing Ground

A Biography of Thermopylae

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An exploration into why and how Thermopylae is one of the most blood-soaked patches of ground in history and what its past can tell us about our future.

'Brilliantly demonstrated.' - Tom Holland

Since the dawn of the Classical Era up to World War II, thousands have lost their lives fighting over the pass at Thermopylae. Historians Cole and Livingston provide an exciting account of each of the 27 battles and holding actions that took place. The epic events of 480 BC when 300 Spartans attempted to hold the pass has been immortalised in poetry, art, literature and film. But no history has ever detailed the other events from the very first battle through to the battles fought by Romans, Byzantines, Huns and Ottomans during the early and late medieval periods and finally the two desperate struggles against German occupying forces during World War II. The Killing Ground details the background and history of each conflict, the personalities and decision making of the commanders, the arms and tactics of the troops, and how each battle played out.

Cole and Livingston have surveyed the ground to provide a boots-on understanding of each battle. Their command of multiple ancient and medieval languages means they have provided their own translations of much of the source material, ensuring new insights into each battle. This uncompromising scholarship is woven together into a compelling and unforgettable history that grips the reader from start to finish.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Introduction: The Killing Ground
1. The First Action: The First Battle of Thermopylae, Date Unknown
2. The Second Action: The Second Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC
3. The Third Action: Crossing, 355 BC
4. The Fourth Action: Holding, 352 BC
5. The Fifth Action: Seizure, 346 BC
6. The Sixth Action: The Third Battle of Thermopylae, 323 BC
7. The Seventh Action: Holding, 316 BC
8. The Eighth Action: The Fourth Battle of Thermopylae, 315 BC
9. The Ninth Action: The Fifth Battle of Thermopylae, 279 BC
10. The Tenth Action: Holding, 224 BC
11. The Eleventh Action: The Sixth Battle of Thermopylae, 207 BC
12. The Twelfth Action: The Seventh Battle of Thermopylae, 191 BC
13. The Thirteenth Action: Crossing, 146 BC
14. The Fourteenth Action: Holding, AD 251
15. The Fifteenth Action: The Eighth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 254
16. The Sixteenth Action: Crossing, AD 396
17. The Seventeenth Action: The Ninth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 447
18. The Eighteenth Action: The Tenth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 517
19. The Nineteenth Action: The Eleventh Battle of Thermopylae, AD 539
20. The Twentieth Action: The Twelfth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 559
21. The Twenty-First Action: The Thirteenth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 997
22. The Twenty-Second Action: Crossing, AD 1203
23. The Twenty-Third Action: The Fourteenth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 1204
24. The Twenty-Fourth Action: The Fifteenth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 1822
25. The Twenty-Fifth Action: The Sixteenth Battle of Thermopylae, AD 1941
26. The Twenty-Sixth Action: Sabotage, AD 1942
27. The Twenty-Seventh Action: Sabotage, AD 1943
Conclusion: A Cauldron of War

Product details

Published Feb 06 2024
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 304
ISBN 9781472858665
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations 16-page plate section in colour
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Myke Cole

Following a long career in the military, intellige…


Michael Livingston

Dr Michael Livingston teaches the military and cul…


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