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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 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)2019 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about Persian Fire

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I regret buying such book

I was looking forward to read about Persian history, real history, and not some propaganda.

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Profile Image for Nick Jarvis
  • Nick Jarvis
  • 03-07-21

Gripping from start to finish

Really interesting and brilliantly narrated. History told as a story. Awakened an interest in a period of history I knew little about. Highly recommend

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Profile Image for Charles Bertoia
  • Charles Bertoia
  • 02-18-21

Excellent narrative history of the Persian Empire

As always, Tom Holland produced a magnificent narrative history. He lays out the development of two empires interwoven by geography and ambition.

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Profile Image for Connor Sampson
  • Connor Sampson
  • 12-24-20

Accessible telling of fascinating history

Not only does this book tell what happened when a quarter of a million Persian soldiers invaded Greece, but it explains why. It has great discussions and histories of the powers involved in the war, as well as the events which cause it. I cannot recommend this book enough! Well structured and gripping throughout!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-19

Excellent

Loved this book, however, I think the title is somewhat misleading. The majority of the book deals with Greek history as it relates to the Persian wars, I would have liked it to deal more with Persian history as it relates to the Greek wars. Subtle, but important difference.

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Profile Image for D
  • D
  • 04-24-20

not what it says on the box.

This isn't, as the description goes, a history of the Persian Empire. Rather, it is another history of the Greco/Persian wars with a bit at the start about the origin of the Persian Empire. Darius' exploits in India get two lines. The campaign against the Scythians less than a paragraph. The book ends generations before the end of the Persian Empire.

Holland does an excellent job crafting a gripping narrative, but this book is not as described.