Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West Paperback – June 12, 2007
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book probably about as much as I enjoyed Holland's "Rubicon"--which is to say, quite a lot. It is solid, credibly researched history as it might be presented by a tabloid journalist: cynical, gossipy, and salted liberally with salacious or incriminating nuggets about its many characters. It is intended for a general audience, not an academic one, and it succeeds very well.
The book has an unusual but well-considered structure. Holland starts off by describing the societies of the protagonists, devoting his opening chapters to Mesopotamia, Iran, Sparta, and Athens. He does an excellent job of showing how different these worlds were from each other, and gives a strong flavor of how their inhabitants thought and behaved. That done, Holland moves on to the wars themselves, with accounts of the campaigns leading to the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, which we are now in a position to appreciate much better, knowing something of the outlook and worldview of the different players.
Holland's drive to tell a seamless story has him solving all kinds of problems of conflicts in the sources, drawing canny conclusions from wispy or contradictory data. Only occasionally does he draw attention to his reasoning; mostly it is part of the work underlying the flow of his story. And his story does flow.
Sometimes I found that Holland had laid the cynicism on a bit thick. While of course the ancient world, including among its heroes, had its share of scheming, selfish, greedy, backstabbing blowhards, some of the people must have exhibited more noble qualities at least sometimes.Read more ›
Was Darius a murderer who lead an assasination squad? A patriot who wanted liberty or death? A forerunner of Asoka or Washington or bin Laden or Alexander? Dig into the backgrounds and philosophy of each historian arguing for each position and you'll find that the arguments are based as much on their ideation as on the facts.
Holland falls into the same traps that all the rest of us do, and in the course of the book you learn a lot about his feelings about the nature of war, the values of modern humanism, and the troubled relationship of the classically trained with Heroditus along with a lot of difficult, often questionable, assumptions about what the material really means. You will, in the course of that, get some good information about Persia and Greece and the conflicts that birthed the idea that East is East and West is West. (For further commentary on that idea in a more modern context, check out "White Mughals" by William Dalrymple.)
But, for all the difficulty and questionable calls, when the book shines it shines brightly, and gives a very readable introduction to some really difficult material. My recomendation would be to read it at the same time as the first several chapters of Josef Wiesehofer's "Ancient Persia" in order to get the most out of both books -- which do a good job of balancing each other out towards a sustainable view of the subject.
Also, be sure to read and think carefully about all the end-notes. Much of Holland's best and most honest insight is found there, rather than in the main text.
Like RUBICON, Holland's classical background makes him a natural to explain the peculiarly complicated relationship between Darius and Xerxes, the Persian Emperors who cast hungry eyes at the west; their two invasions, and the eventual triumph of the unified Greeks after many hair-raising challenges.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an interesting attempt to write the history of the period from the Persian perspective. The sources are largely Greek, and that has determined the usual approach. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by pertap
A helpful and well written review of ancient history, yet history that continues to be part of Western life.Published 10 days ago by Rev. Luther C. Pierce
This is one of the most enjoyable history books that I've read in a long time. Holland mixes indepth research, scholarship, and interpretative insights in equal measure to create a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pinko Yankie
Very readable overview of a period I did not know well. Using the events leading up to the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae as his rarionale, Holland weaves an entertaining and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Morris Bowie
The author is either ignorant or very confused about Muhammad and Islam, the first chapter and the later chapters about Muhammad are very confused, inaccurate and vague. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jennifer
I really enjoyed this because it is a fairly well written tome about a part of east vs west history that you don't hear much about. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dougie