THE RETREAT, the military apocalyptic thriller series I’m writing with Stephen Knight and Joe McKinney, tells the story of a lost battalion of light infantry that must journey through a dying America to find the last bastion of the federal government. It was inspired in part by a remarkable tale called THE ANABASIS, which also inspired other works such as the book and film THE WARRIORS.
Written by Xenophon, a Greek mercenary, THE ANABASIS tells the story of a 10,000-strong professional army of Greeks who must fight their way out of the Persian Empire. The term “anabasis” means an expedition from the coast into a country’s interior.
The army, called the Ten Thousand, are hired by Cyrus, who rebels against his brother Artaxerxes II. At Cunaxa, battle is joined. Though Cyrus wins a tactical victory, he’s killed during the fighting. The Ten Thousand are now stranded deep in the Persian Empire surrounded by enemies. Through treachery, the Spartan general Clearchus and other leaders are killed or captured. Xenophon and two other officers elected by the army lead the Ten Thousand north and then west back toward Greece. Internal politics, local diplomacy and constant fighting marked their long march.
Xenophon’s account proved a sensation in Greece. Some historians theorize it later inspired Philip of Macedon to believe that a small but superior army could defeat the Persian army and conquer the empire. The story is uncorroborated but is considered an account of true events.
Click here to read it online.