Gates of Fire

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of Gates of Fire

Book description

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!'…


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Why read it?

8 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Battle of Thermopylae is the story that first set off my profound interest in history. Nothing surpasses the courage and drama of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans who stood against Xerxes’ overwhelming force during the Persian Wars of 480BC. As far as I’m concerned, the only author who has done the stirring tale true justice is Pressfield.

I heard this story for the first time when I was a child of five, oddly enough at Sunday School, and was awestruck.  It was repeated by chance when I was 13 watching the Hollywood movie, The 300 Spartans with Robert…

The story of the 300 Spartans is one of the oldest in recorded history, and it stands tall today as an account of courage and conviction. The story was sensationalized by Frank Miller with his graphic novel turned feature film, but Pressfield pens a unique perspective and a far more in-depth look at this fascinating warrior culture. Told from the eyes of a willing slave in Sparta, the book follows several characters as they rise through the ranks, but more than that, Pressfield expands our knowledge of the powerful role played by the women of Sparta. From training to sport…

Ever since watching the 2006 movie 300 about the famous Spartan defense against the Persians in Ancient Greece, I was intrigued by the people behind the story and the events which shaped it. I immediately fell in love with Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire! He effortlessly blends historical realism with character development while not shying away from the important questions that transcend the ages. What is fear and how do soldiers of any army reach deep into themselves to fight for hearth and home? It was my first foray into Ancient Greece and would shape my vision for Spartan culture…

Pressfield has recreated the famous encounter between the Spartans and the invading Persian armies under Xerxes The Great. What makes men willing to die for their country? Pressfield shows us. He also illuminates the forces that shaped the men of Sparta, who remain the ideal of all soldiers since. I had long been curious about this battle because the Spartans were not merely greatly outnumbered but because Xerxes had conquered much of the ancient world. I wanted to know how those Spartans were relevant to today, and Pressman tells us.

One of the most beautifully said stories about the battle of Thermopylae between Leonidas and his 300 men army and the Persians, told by Xeones, the sole survivor of the battle. It made me shiver and the descriptions were so vivid that I was sure the author lived during that battle. It was the first book I cried while reading. 

This is a historical novel about the Battle of Thermopylae, the Gates of Fire of the title, which was fought between the famous 300 Spartans – and importantly, and not to be forgotten, their allies and helot slaves – and the invading Persian army and navy under King Xerxes. The battle ended in the defeat of the Spartans but it bought time for the rest of the Greeks to prepare for further encounters and it is often seen as an important turning point in the war.

In a highly original way, Pressfield describes the battle through the eyes of Xeones,…

From Robert's list on making Ancient Greece come alive.

Steven Pressfield has written so well about Greece in so many novels that it’s hard to pick just one, but I’ve decided to go with Gates of Fire. This is a novel that brought the Spartan basileus Leonidas and his 300 palikari into mainstream culture before the famous movie did the same thing. The attention to detail, both physical and emotional, is what resonates and stands out most in all of Pressfield’s work, and in Gates of Fire, Leonidas and his men embody the elusive and immortal thing that Pressfield has described as “the warrior ethos.” If you…

From Christopher's list on set in Greece.

Steven Pressfield writes one heck of a war novel, but it is how he captures the warrior ethos and spirit, brotherhood, and honor that make his novels must-reads. In Gates of Fire, we follow the famous 300 Spartans (and allies) at the Battle of Thermopylae as they stand against the incredibly massive army of the Persian Emperor Xerxes through the eyes of a Spartan servant/squire. Written long before the Spartan mythos took control of pop culture, this novel features the best fictional depiction of the most famous last stand in history. If you have any interest in ancient Greek…

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