BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Steven Pressfield's The Profession. The national bestseller! At Thermopylae, a rocky mountain pass in northern Greece, the feared and admired Spartan soldiers stood three hundred strong. Theirs was a suicide mission, to hold the pass against the invading millions of the mighty Persian army. Day after bloody day they withstood the terrible onslaught, buying time for the Greeks to rally their forces. Born into a cult of spiritual courage, physical endurance, and unmatched battle skill, the Spartans would be remembered for the greatest military stand in history--one that would not end until the rocks were awash with blood, leaving only one gravely injured Spartan squire to tell the tale....
Pressfield's first novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was about golf, but here he puts aside his putter and picks up sword and shield as he cleverly and convincingly portrays the clash between Greek hoplites and Persian heavy infantry in the most heroic confrontation of the Hellenic Age: the battle of Thermopylae ("the Hot Gates") in 480 B.C. The terrifying spectacle of classical infantry battle becomes vividly clear in his epic treatment of the Greeks' magnificent last stand against the invading Persians. Driven to understand the courage and sacrifice of his Greek foes, the Persian king, Xerxes, compels Xeones, a captured Greek slave, to explain why the Greeks would give their lives to fight against overwhelming odds. Xeones' tale covers his years of training and adventure as the loyal and devoted servant of Dienekes, a noble Spartan soldier, and he describes the six-day ordeal during which a few hundred Greeks held off thousands of Persian spears and arrows, until a Greek traitor led the Persians to an alternate route. Rich with historical detail, hot action and crafty storytelling, Pressfield's riveting story reveals the social and political framework of Spartan life--ending with the hysteria and brutality of the spear-thrusting, shield-bashing clamor that defined a Spartan's relationship with his family, community, country and fellow warriors. (Oct.) Copyright (c) 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Honor, Courage, Commitment, War
Posted January 23, 2010 by Jay , FentonI didn't want to put the book down I enjoyed reading it so much. The descriptions were vivid and the characters seemed so real you could almost touch them. It is a good mixture of war, love, intrigue, devotion to duty, commitment and sacrafice. The Spartan 300 were brought to life. Anyone that likes military history, historical cultural studies, and a great war story will like this one.
August 30, 1999
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
I had always wondered what it felt like to die.
There was an exercise we of the battle train practiced when we served as punching bags for the Spartan heavy infantry. It was called the Oak because we took our positions along a line of oaks at the edge of the plain of Otona, where the Spartiates and the Gentleman-Rankers ran their field exercises in fall and winter. We would line up ten deep with body-length wicker shields braced upon the earth and they would hit us, the shock troops, coming across the flat in line of battle, eight deep, at a walk, then a pace, then a trot and finally a dead run. The shock of their interleaved shields was meant to knock the breath out of you, and it did. It was like being hit by a mountain. Your knees, no matter how braced you held them, buckled like saplings before an earthslide; in an instant all courage fled our hearts; we were rooted up like dried stalks before the ploughman's blade.
That was how it felt to die. The weapon which slew me at Thermopylae was an Egyptian hoplite spear, driven in beneath the plexus of the ribcage. But the sensation was not what one would have anticipated, not being pierced but rather slammed, like we sparring fodder felt beneath the oaks.
I had imagined that the dead would be detached. That they would look upon life with the eyes of objective wisdom. But the experience proved the opposite. Emotion ruled. It seemed nothing remained but emotion. My heart ached and broke as never it could on earth. Loss encompassed me with a searing, all-mastering pain. I saw my wife and children, my dear cousin Diomache, she whom I loved. I saw Skamandridas, my father, and Eunike, my mother, Bruxieus, Dekton and "Suicide," names which mean nothing to His Majesty to hear, but which to me were dearer than life and now, dying, dearer still.
Away they flew. Away I flew from them.
I was keenly conscious of the comrades-in-arms who had fallen with me. A bond surpassing by a hundredfold that which I had known in life bound me to them. I felt a sense of inexpressible relief and realized that I had feared, more than death, separation from them. I apprehended that excruciating war survivor's torment, the sense of isolation and self-betrayal experienced by those who had elected to cling yet to breath when their comrades had let loose their grip.