The Greco-Persian Wars are famous thanks to some very good accounts written not long after they happened (primarily The Histories), but still get boiled down to a few famous battles. The Battle of Plataea isn’t one of those, and feels more like a denouement after the drama of Salamis.

However, the Persan Empire still had a very large army that wintered over in Greece after Salamis. Much of the army pulled back with Xerxes, but what was left was still larger than what the Greeks could likely put up against it. The next year would see the Persians finish by land what they had started by land, and been delayed by sea.

Osprey has done Campaign books for all the major battles of the two invasions of Greece, though I only have this one and Marathon (which was good). This one is meant to stand alone, and starts with an eleven-page summary of the rise of Persia and its conflicts with Greece. This is followed by the usual short descriptions of the various commanders involved (very short in this case, ~3 pages for five people). There is a good look at the Persian and Greek armies, with the general equipment of both, and some analysis of the likely number of men in each army. The following section on overall planning is fairly brief, but covers the situation well.

The main narrative starts with the Persian withdrawal after Salamis (noting that the Greeks had expected a ’round two’ the next day), and deals well with all the politicking that surrounded the efforts to keep the Greek army in the field, and decide just where it would be stationed. The main bulk of the battle is well described, and there’s a couple of good ‘soldier’s eye’ view illustrations, but of course, it largely follows Herodotus’ account. There is some good analysis over how the Greek supplies were working, and the Persian attempts to cut that off; this is also followed by some good work on just what happened during the attempted pull out and the climatic day of the battle.

There’s also a very short section on the Battle of Mycale, which supposedly happened on the same day. The Histories doesn’t talk as much about it, and therefore there’s not a lot to say here, though there is an area map, and a good photo of where the battle presumably happened.

Overall, it’s a competent Campaign book, but not a stellar one. This is mostly caused by the fact we’re dependent on one well-known source. It’s well analyzed here, but there’s not a whole lot to do, though of course the photos of the area, and the maps are a great help.