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Gates of Fire Hardcover – October 20, 1998
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Thousands of years ago, Herodotus and Plutarch immortalized Spartan society in their histories; but today, little is left of the ancient city or the social structure of this momentous culture. One of the few antiquarian marks of the civilization that has survived lies scores of miles away from Sparta, at a narrow Greek mountain pass called Thermopylae.
It was there that three hundred of Sparta's finest warriors held back the invading millions of the Persian empire and valiantly gave their lives in the selfless service of democracy and freedom. A simple engraved stone marks their burial ground.
Inspired by this stone and intrigued by the lore of Sparta, author Steven Pressfield has brilliantly combined scholarship with storytelling. Narrated by the sole survivor of the epic battle--a squire in the Spartan heavy infantry--Gates of Fire is a mesmerizing depiction of one man's indoctrination into the Spartan way of life and death, and of the legendary men and women who gave the culture an immortal gravity.
Culminating in the electrifying and horrifying epic battle, Gates of Fire weaves history, mystery, and heartbreaking romance into a literary page-turner that brings the Homeric tradition into the twenty-first century.
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An awful waste.
These are the two thoughts I am left with after reading this book. This book would just be an amazingly entertaining read except for the fact it is based in truth.
This awful, horrible butchery actually happened.
Men actually lived like this - and do live like this. In a culture of war and bloodshed and honor.
At the same time I stand in near-silent awe and gratitude for the example their lives give, I also shudder at the waste of it.
More than any other "war" book I have read, this book contrasts those two sides of war. The glorious honor that reflects the best of humankind, and the tragedy of a wasted life that could have offered so much more life if it had been left to ripen.
One very interesting thing about this book is it discussed the psychology of the soldier in a way I (who have never been a soldier) never considered before. It is interesting, but theoretical to me. I pray it never becomes real. And I have both envy and pity in my heart for those to whom it is not theory.
Note: I tried to get my wife to read it because it has some very interesting sections relating to the feminine role in ancient Sparta, but she got about a third through and put it down. She said it was a guy book. Oh, well.
Mr. Pressfield, I read a lot and it has been a long time since I've read anything that is as well written as Gates of Fire. I feel as though I understand the Spartans now. I was greatly moved by several passages as they gave me a greater insight into my son's experiences as a Marine.
This is one book I will probably read again.
Most recent customer reviews
The style of writing is convincing to the point of feeling historical in origin. Fantastic!