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.
©1998 Steven Pressfield (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
"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.
Steven Pressfield, has created a compelling, entertaining story - well written on many levels. You won't be disappointed by the author. What makes this a great listen is the narrator George Guidall. Mr. Guidall is a voice actor with depth and real life experience. The author has created a good story and Mr. Guidall's performance propels it to a higher level. Some narrators such as Scott Brick, have a style and narrate books written in their style. Mr. Guidall is a voice actor who brings to life the character in the story. This author partnered with this voice actor equals five star winner.
I'm not sure as my life just doesn't have time for a good long read anymore. Not to say that it wouldn't be even better but just not for us that have discovered Audible as a modern indispensable option in their busy lives. I listen often and found this book because of George Guidall's narration right up there in my favorite narrators list.
I'd say that this listen is for those that appreciate attention to detail and authors that not only write well but take the time to contextualize their works. Painting the verbal picture is definitely one of Pressfields strengths. This might not be for those who would rather a story flow or move at a faster pace. At the same time, for a story whose ending we all know, I enjoyed every minute of it. There is a long list of life insights presented in ways that for folks like me will enjoy the insights and potential lessons sewn throughout.
Yes i read
Love this story. Made the audio book.
History, battle, love. everything
The Spartan Phalanx.
I have waited for audible to get this story in the unabridged for a long time. Several suggestion letters later its here!
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.
I don't think you can compare it with anything. The history can be compared to the events that took place at the Alamo but this is an epic story. The story line was well written and enjoyed how it flowed.
Tell us about yourself!
standing up for what you believe
A book a father could pass down to a son.
All per my husband
My headline says it all! Looking forward to "The Virtues of War" next... and a great narration too...
This book rates at the top of my Audible listens and I have listened to many over the years. History, culture, action, told so well that I truly did not want it to end.
I will absolutely listen to this book again. The story is rich, and colorful with many details about dozens and dozens of characters to fill out the world of the Greeks and Persians.
Despite knowing how the story ends prior to starting, I was surprised at how moved I was during several parts of the book. Emotionally moved in a way that I don't recall ever happening with another book.
Being a book about ancient Greece, written in an "old style" where each Province and every character is named often, it might get tedious to read and pronounce the Greek, even if just in one's own head. Guidall's pronunciations are faithful and consistent, and really helped to make the text (which is quite long) very accessible.
Yes. It is told from a historian/narrator point of view, as a story; and it feels that way. I felt like an officer sitting in the Persian tent listening to Xeones tell the story. I wanted to hear it all, told straight through. But at over 14 hours... it wasn't possible.
Simply one of the best books I have ever read.
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