Cover of 'The Battle of Salamis.'
In 480 B.C., a powerful Persian armada attacked a Greek fleet at Salamis, an island off Athens. But the Greek city states set aside differences and banded together to repel the invaders in an epic battle involving a thousand ships. In his book The Battle of Salamis historian Barry Strauss argues that the Greek victory did no less than assure the survival of Western civilization.
The in-depth military history serves to reinforce the battle's pivotal reputation. The aggressive Persian Empire was a threat to the world's first democracy and the defeat stopped its advance cold. And following the battle, the Greeks started their own ascent to empire from the newly triumphant capital of Athens.