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Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West | [Tom Holland]

Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West

Tom Holland's brilliant new book describes the very first "clash of Empires" between East and West. Once again he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no competing popular book describing these events.
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Publisher's Summary

In 480 BC, Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For 70 years, victory, rapid, spectacular victory, had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks of the mainland managed to hold out. The Persians were turned back. Greece remained free. Had the Greeks been defeated at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such an entity as the West at all.

Tom Holland's brilliant new book describes the very first "clash of Empires" between East and West. Once again he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no competing popular book describing these events.

©2005 Tom Holland; (P)2005 Time Warner AudioBooks

What the Critics Say

"Incendiary stuff. Sparkling insight and no less sparkling writing." (Independent)
"Excellent." (Sunday Times)

What Members Say

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  • A Manning
    London
    1/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable story, well read, content a bit lobsided"
    If you could sum up Persian Fire in three words, what would they be?

    An ancient Greek perspective of encounters with the Persian empire; and in-fighting between the Greek city states: at a time when history could have taken a very different course if Sparta and Athens hadn't repulsed Xerxes.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Tom Holland? Why or why not?

    Yes- not for historical information but for a potentially enjoyable story (I enjoyed Rubicon).


    Which character – as performed by Andrew Sachs – was your favourite?

    Andrew Sachs is a great narrator; a great voice for reading a story


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    nope


    Any additional comments?

    From the title I was hoping for more of the Persian perspective (I already know a bit of Ancient Greek history). But sadly that's a bit limited. The Persians are referred to as 'Barbarians' throughout- technically accurate as it means 'non Greek speakers' (so most people fit into that category!). However, the occasional Persian viewpoint that's touched on doesn't seem to support the use of 'Barbarian' in its more common usage. The story of Artemisia (Persian woman leader) is interesting (and in marked contrast to the Athenian view on women!|). The book ends on some interesting aspects: Athens becoming a despot through enforced payment protection from other Greek states and the looming clash between Sparta and Athens and the decline of both.It raised my curiosity about the Persian Empire: where it came from; what happened to it after Thermopylae; Alexander the Great and beyond... and I found the title 'The Persian Empire' by J Lee (Great Courses series in Audible) fascinating and informative (and will listen to more of the Ancient History 'Great courses').

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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