Anabasis – Book Review


The 400-page ancient times travel-memoir called Anabasis, written by Xenophon around 400 BC, is still read with interest even today. The story told in the book is about the events that took place after the death of the Persian king.

The rebellious younger prince, who opposes the elder boy’s kingship and has a lot wealth of money, assembles an army of 10,000 mercenaries, mostly Spartans, in the Hellenic region. They reach Babylon, that is, near Baghdad in present-day Iraq, via Konya, and southeastern Anatolia. However, they lose their war with the Persians and ten thousand Hellenic soldiers are left in the alone in the Middle East. Their commander goes to a meeting to make an agreement with the Persian king, but they are taken prisoner and all were killed.

In the absence of the commanders, a lesser rank soldier named Xenophon with three others are chosen as the commander of the ten thousand soldiers and they direct the army to the north. Under very difficult climatic and geographical conditions, they cross Eastern Anatolia from south to north and reach Trabzon, and from there weak and sick soldiers reach their homeland by ships, and the rest by land via Giresun and Sinop to Istanbul. In the end, eight thousand soldiers survive. Xenophon describes this event in detail in his daily Anabasis book. Xenophon, a student of Socrates, ends his campaign as a successful commander, which he started as a simple humble warrior. The Anabasis book is also very informative for Alexander, who will conquer the same region 70 years later.

The Anabasis book is available in major bookstores and is very enjoyable to read. It should not be forgotten that after a lost war, we may be helpless in the deserts of the Middle East, like the Spartan mercenaries 2500 years ago. Xenophon book Anabasis is not only a historical document, but also shows how people can act together, show leadership and focus on the goal under difficult conditions. The book is still being studied in the field of leadership and business today.

The story of Anabasis also tells us the story of a challenging adventure. This time, where ten thousand soldiers struggle to survive, also shows the power of solidarity between people. Therefore, Anabasis is a must-read for anyone interested in history, leadership, adventure, and human nature. Anabasis also has similarities with today’s events. The world is always faced with political, economic and social problems. However, we can overcome these problems by acting together, demonstrating cohesive leadership, and staying focused. Similar events are taking place today. At the G7 and G20 summits, top world leaders meet and try to find common sense and decisions  on conflicts, wars, energy and environment issues, understand each other and act together. Therefore, your writer thinks that we too can be inspired by Anabasis to overcome the challenges we may face today and in the future.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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