Gates of Fire

  • by Steven Pressfield
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • 14 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Gates of Fire puts you at the side of valiant Spartan warriors in 480 BC for the bloody, climactic battle at Thermopylae. There, a few hundred of Sparta’s finest sacrificed their lives to hold back the invading Persian millions. The time they bought enabled the Greeks to rally - saving, according to ancient historian Herodotus, “Western democracy and freedom from perishing in the cradle.” How did the Spartans accomplish this superhuman feat? This is what the King of Persia hopes to learn from the sole Spartan survivor. The squire’s story indeed reveals the incredible rigors of Spartan training - and more importantly, how the whole culture fostered the mindset of fearlessness.
Steven Pressfield has skillfully combined scholarship and storytelling to bring the whole world of ancient Sparta brilliantly to life. George Guidall’s dramatic delivery enhances the richness and feeling of this inspired recreation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by

"Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here obedient to their laws we lie."

Good authors are often graced with one great book. 'Gates of Fire' is Pressfield's henosis. It is lyrical, compelling, thought provoking, and soars above most works of historical fiction (at least those that shrug in the mud of military historical fiction). Like most of Pressfield's work, 'Gates of Fire' deals with the common soldier, the grunt, the squire. His narrative is informed by a people's history of Greek history. For me, the most surprising aspect of 'Gates of Fire' was the nuance Pressfield's gave to Spartan women.

If I sound too enraptured, too possesssed, I apologize. I am sure that there are faults in this novel, but they are few and mostly irrelevant. Pressfield wasn't aiming for 'War and Peace', he wasn't trying to capture the flag of high literature. His goal was more humble, but he more than won it.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Hard to read

I bought this book thinking that it was the story of the Battle of Thermopylae. While it is that, most of it concerns the life of the narrator of the story, the (fictional) single Spartan survivor of the battle, as he relates it to the Persian King Xerxes after the battle. The result is that most of the book concerns not the battle itself, but the lives of those living in Sparta, both citizens and non-citizens, and hence gives us a view of what life was like growing up in this most military of states.

I had, of course, first heard about Sparta when in Elementary School and had my first formal presentation of the story in High School history class but, after reading this book, I have to say that I had no real idea at that time what the term "harsh upbringing" really meant. Steven Pressfield has clarified that term in great detail and this book will stay with me for some time to come. I found it very hard to read but, at the same time, found myself reluctant to put it down until I had heard what happened to those involved. Not those actually involved in the battle of course but those related to the primary characters in the book. The idea that 300 or so Spartans and their more numerous allies could hold off the entire Persian Army for 7 days (3 days of which was battle) seemed incredible to me when I was young and still seems hard to believe, but the details in the book are presented so well and so clearly that I could almost imagine myself as being an invisible observer as the battle progressed.

This is not an easy book to read (or listen to), but is well worth the effort for the clarity it gives to one of the pivotal moments in history. The narration by George Guidall is very well done, as one would expect from him, and the tone suits the events. I may not re-read this book but I am glad I went to the effort to buy and listen to it. I recommend this book to those with an interest in history in general and the early Greek states in particular but do not recommend it to the squeamish. It is, as I wrote, a hard book for me to read.
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- Mike From Mesa "MikeFromMesa"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-14-2012
  • Publisher: Recorded Books