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Description - Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Nearly 2,500 years ago, in 480BC, at a bleak pass in a far-flung corner of eastern Greece, three hundred Spartan warriors faced the army of Xerxes of Persia, a massive force rumoured to be over a million strong. Their orders were simple: to delay the enemy for as long as possible while the main Greek armies mobilized. For six days the Spartans held the invaders at bay. In the final hours - their shields broken, swords and spears shattered - they fought with their bare hands before being overwhelmed. It was battle that would become synonymous with extraordinary courage, heroism and self-sacrifice: it was Thermopylae. In Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the epic story of those legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780553812169
ISBN-10: 0553812165
Format: Paperback
(178mm x 106mm x 31mm)
Pages: 528
Imprint: Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 3-Feb-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

UK Kirkus Review » This is an international bestseller of truly epic proportions. It gives an account of Spartan-Persian battle of Thermopylae - the most awe inspiring and heroic battle ever fought in the ancient world. It's a novel rich in human colour and humour. With such touches of humanity as to bring us suddenly very close to those Spartans of 480BC. Following in the footsteps of many Renault, Pressfield brings his passion for the classical world to his work, and it shines forth from the page. A highly literate and accomplished work. Pressfield is to continue his work on the Spartans and the Peloponnesian War in Tides of War due to be published later this year. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A triumph in historical fiction best describes this stirring account of the famous battle of Thermopylae, told by the lone survivor before succumbing to his wounds, in a logical followup to Pressfield's Homeric take on golf, The Legend of Bagger Vance (1995). The young squire Xeones is pulled from beneath a burned battle wagon when the carnage finally ends at the narrow mountain pass where, in 480 B.C., three hundred Spartans and a small allied force fought off, for a full week, the two-million-man army of Persian king Xerxes. Xeones is kept alive by the king's own physicians in the hope that he'll tell His Majesty all there is to know about those sublimely disciplined warriors who accomplished so great a victory. In a series of interviews recorded by the royal historian, Xeones recounts his own origins: forced to flee, newly orphaned, when his own city was sacked, he lived hand-to-mouth in the mountains until deciding to go to Sparta in order to learn all there was to know about defending himself. As he recalls Xerxes' army rolling inexorably into Athens, burning the city after a token defense, the survivor describes the decades of hard training endured by every Spartan male, and also the contacts he had with his youthful sparring partner, the silver-throated, sensitive Alexandros, and with the fair-minded, modest Dienekes (whose squire he would become). But by the time Xeones comes to the crux of his story, involving the mighty battle itself and the heroic actions of his comrades-in-arms, things have started to go awry again for the Persians. Although he will soon join his friends in death, Xeones lives long enough to know that their sacrifice was not in vain. While the romantic interests are somewhat stilted, the man-to-man and mano-a-mano elements are all superb, with a fine, elegiac tune - to be expected, frankly, given the subject - enhancing equally the historical details and the human touches. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is a bestselling historical novelist whose books include the classic Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Alexander: Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign and Killing Rommell. He lives in California. His website is

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