Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield

Pressfield’s engaging retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, in which three hundred Spartan warriors held off the boundless hordes of Persia for seven days is a really fun “Last Stand” type historical novel. For those of you who have seen the kickass trailer for the upcoming movie “300” – this novel well chronicles the same events. And if you aren’t quite up to reading Herodotus’ chronicle of these same events in ancient greek, then you might quite enjoy this book.

If, on the other hand, descriptions of manly valor, piss, blood and mutilation, and senseless warfare are distasteful to you, you might not enjoy this book. At all.

In the course of reading this tale of heroism and slaughter, I came to two conclusions: First, I now know a good deal more about the history of ancient Greece than I did before, and second, the Spartans were probably not very nice people. Valuing the ability to take and dish out massive punishment above all other attributes doesn’t make for a very nice society, but it does make for warriors who are superb fodder for historical epic battle tales like this one.

I’m now eager to see the movie “300”.

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