American Anabasis: Xenophon and the Idea of America from the Mexican War to Iraq

Tim Rood, Author
Tim Rood, Overlook, $37.50 (292p) ISBN 978-1-59020-476-4
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7156-3684-8
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Xenophon's Anabasis describes a large mercenary Greek army that marched across Turkey and the Middle East and deep inside Persia in 400 B.C., but was forced into an epic retreat. Historian Rood, a fellow in classics at Oxford, examines how the Anabasis has been used, and misused, in accounts of American military exploits. Beginning his account with the Anabasis project—a top-secret, post-September 11 CIA plan for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein—Rood then doubles back to the 19th century. Col. Alexander Doniphan, who led troops from Missouri to Mexico during the Mexican War, was hailed in his day as the American Xenophon. Almost two decades later, Sherman's march through Georgia received the same acclaim. Rood turns up citations for other events including a surprising number comparing the U.S. Army's 2003 dash through Iraq to the Anabasis. He examines their meaning and relation (usually distant) with the spirit of Xenophon's account. This is intellectual history—an exploration of America's appropriation of the Anabasis—rather than a recounting of battles. While Rood's prose is readable, this meticulous discussion of Xenophon's influence in America will appeal to few outside academia. B&w illus. (Mar.)
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