10 books like Persian Fire

By Tom Holland,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Persian Fire. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Never Greater Slaughter

By Michael Livingston,

Book cover of Never Greater Slaughter: Brunanburh and the Birth of England

Livingston is the undisputed master of conflict geography/cartography, using battlegrounds as the interpretative mechanism for truly ground-breaking scholarship. He has already disrupted centuries of scholarship on major medieval battles such as Hastings, Crecy and Agincourt, completely changing how we view them (and proving where they were actually fought). He’s also an accomplished novelist, and he brings his flair for dramatic narrative to this towering scholarly work, making it as exciting to read as a pulse-pounding action novel. Never Greater Slaughter absolutely raises the bar on what great scholarship can do, and how gripping it can be while doing it.

Never Greater Slaughter

By Michael Livingston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Greater Slaughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'No one has done more than Michael Livingston to revive memories of the battle, and you could not hope for a better guide.' BERNARD CORNWELL Bestselling author of The Last Kingdom series Late in AD 937, four armies met in a place called Brunanburh. On one side stood the shield-wall of the expanding kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. On the other side stood a remarkable alliance of rival kings - at least two from across the sea - who'd come together to destroy them once and for all. The stakes were no less than the survival of the dream that would…


The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Book cover of The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece

Roberts’ groundbreaking, game-changing story of the Peloponnesian War (really, wars) is richly detailed and comprehensive, a modernizing “leveling up” from Donald Kagan’s 2004 standard text. By centering her narrative in the impact of the war, rather than strategy and politics, Roberts brings home the terrible human cost of the conflict, and the book serves as a critical examination of what wholesale violence means to a society, from the high to the low. Roberts writes with incredible empathy, and her voice makes the book more than enlightening, it’s a deeply moving mediation on the depths of self-inflicted suffering as only human beings can engender. 

The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Plague of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states of Athens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than a generation the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. The war embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butchery previously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities were exterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved. While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the capture of the Athenian
navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation of Athens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades. Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian…


The Thirty Years War

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Book cover of The Thirty Years War

The late, great C.V. Wegwood was one of the masters of narrative history who—like her contemporary Barbara Tuchman—became a legend for weaving a bounty of facts into a brilliant page-turner. In this classic, she takes on what is perhaps Europe’s most infamously complicated war and succeeds with characteristic genius. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was many things: the culmination of Europe’s religious wars, a struggle for the heart of a continent, a clash of empires, a collapse of civilization, and, perhaps most poignantly, a sprawling nightmare that still haunts the German people. Wedgwood covers it all in a crisp, witty narrative in which characters high and low virtually walk off the page. In English, this is probably still the reigning treatment of this bear of a subject, and it is a joy to read.

The Thirty Years War

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Thirty Years War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Europe in 1618 was riven between Protestants and Catholics, Bourbon and Hapsburg--as well as empires, kingdoms, and countless principalities. After angry Protestants tossed three representatives of the Holy Roman Empire out the window of the royal castle in Prague, world war spread from Bohemia with relentless abandon, drawing powers from Spain to Sweden into a nightmarish world of famine, disease, and seemingly unstoppable destruction.


Ghost on the Throne

By James Romm,

Book cover of Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

It is this book, about the successors of Alexander the Great, that inspired me to write my first novel, the Atlantis Papyrus. It is a great read—the pages feel less like an academic paper and more like an action novel and keeps one’s interest until the very end. I learned about so many fascinating figures in Alexander’s world I had never really known about and the tumultuous years following his death. In my work, I drew inspiration from some of the characters and events depicted in this book.

Ghost on the Throne

By James Romm,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ghost on the Throne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-two, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs—a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death—were jointly granted the kingship. But six of Alexander’s Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule “to the strongest,” fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander’s former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general…


The Landmark Herodotus

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Book cover of The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories

For anyone wanting to find out not just what happened in the Graeco-Persian Wars (490–479 BC) but how their participants viewed the world, Herodotus’ Histories are a treasure trove. Writing a generation after the event, Herodotus travelled widely, interviewing as many people as he could from veterans to Egyptian priests. But readers must be wary: Herodotus wasn’t writing history as we understand it. Instead, he blended fact, anecdote, and moralizing to demonstrate why in his view the Greek way of life (especially Athenian democracy) was superior to Persian totalitarianism, and why Persian hubris merited divine punishment. While the Landmark edition’s translation of Herodotus’ seductive prose may not be the best (Tom Holland’s, for example, is better), the number and clarity of its maps make it invaluable.

The Landmark Herodotus

By Robert B. Strassler (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Landmark Herodotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 5th century BC an adventurous Ionian Greek, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, journeyed extensively through the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, from Egypt to Asia Minor, collecting tales of the upheavals that had afflicted the region in the earlier part of the century. The fruits of his wanderings were The Histories, in which he used his narrative gifts not only to chronicle the rise of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and its war with the Greek city-states, but also to recount his experiences with the varied peoples and cultures he had encountered during his journey.
Herodotus earned the nickname 'the father…


The Battle of Salamis

By Barry Strauss,

Book cover of The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece—and Western Civilization

Barry Strauss is among the best writers ever to address the history of ancient Greece and Rome. In this exciting book, Strauss retells the great battle of Salamis – the naval battle that turned the tide of the Greek-Persian wars of the early fifth century BCE and inaugurated the Athenian Golden Age. He does so through the eyes of a wide range of those who participated in the battle – on both sides. This is military history that attends closely to the human element, and that reminds us that at various points in the past, the future of the world hung in the balance – and that the result was never foreordained. 

The Battle of Salamis

By Barry Strauss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Battle of Salamis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a late September day in 480 B.C., Greek warships faced an invading Persian armada in the narrow Salamis Straits in the most important naval battle of the ancient world. Overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy, the Greeks triumphed through a combination of strategy and deception. More than two millennia after it occurred, the clash between the Greeks and Persians at Salamis remains one of the most tactically brilliant battles ever fought. The Greek victory changed the course of western history -- halting the advance of the Persian Empire and setting the stage for the Golden Age of Athens.
In this…


Jewel of Persia

By Roseanna M. White,

Book cover of Jewel of Persia

This is a lesser-known gem of a novel that has all the hallmarks of excellence in historical fiction. Roseanna White does a brilliant job of weaving solid historical research into a captivating story. This is based on the book of Esther, but is also a compelling story of Xerxes, the Persian king that was her captor and husband. Richly drawn historical detail, page-turning action, and a cast of fascinating characters will keep you reading late into the night. 

Jewel of Persia

By Roseanna M. White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jewel of Persia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?
Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes' wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.

Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they re not the Spartans or…


The Athenian Revolution

By Josiah Ober,

Book cover of The Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Political Theory

All through my school years, I heard that democracy began in Athens, in ancient Greece. But I never understood how that could have happened. To me, constitutions and democracy began with the American and French Revolutions. It turns out that Athenian democracy too began with a revolution! And it was a situation very similar to our own origins: A democratic revolution in a slave-owning society! And at a time when a “national” identity was just being formed out of local and regional ones. This is a book of essays, and you don’t have to read them all. But Josiah Ober is the foremost modern expert on Athenian society and the origins of its democracy, and his essays on that topic in this book are the best accounts we have.

He clearly presents a world that is thousands of years away from us and very strange, but shows how they confronted…

The Athenian Revolution

By Josiah Ober,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Athenian Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where did "democracy" come from, and what was its original form and meaning? Here Josiah Ober shows that this "power of the people" crystallized in a revolutionary uprising by the ordinary citizens of Athens in 508-507 B.C. He then examines the consequences of the development of direct democracy for upper-and lower-class citizens, for dissident Athenian intellectuals, and for those who were denied citizenship under the new regime (women, slaves, resident foreigners), as well as for the general development of Greek history. When the citizens suddenly took power into their own hands, they changed the cultural and social landscape of Greece,…


Alexander

By Valerio Massimo Manfredi,

Book cover of Alexander: Child of a Dream

This series of three books are very exciting. From beginning to end the reader is immersed in Alejandro's life in an impressive way. A recommended reading both as entertainment and at the level of historical and cultural learning. The story is well documented and explained, helping you feel what the different characters feel.

Alexander

By Valerio Massimo Manfredi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alexander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first title in an international blockbuster trilogy of brutal passion and grand adventure in ancient Greece.This is the story of a boy, born to a great king - Philip of Macedon - and his sensuous queen, Olympias. It tells of the stern discipline of Philip and the wild passions of Olympias, and how, together, they formed Alexander, a young man of immense, unfathomable potential, capable of subjugating the known world to his power, and thought of by his contemporaries as a god. Alexander's swift ascent to manhood, as a protege of Aristotle and close friend of Ptolemy and Hephiaston,…


The Flight of Ikaros

By Kevin Andrews,

Book cover of The Flight of Ikaros: Travels in Greece During the Civil War

In 1947, archaeologist Kevin Andrews went to the Peloponnese on a Fulbright fellowship to study the Crusader castles and found a country in the midst of a civil war. He was one of the few foreigners there at the time, which his book vividly brings to life.. after a first rather idyllic description of stomping on grapes with friends on Paros he enters another world. Yet he was so moved by the humanity of the villagers in a period of great poverty, suspicion, and turmoil that he made Greece his home, and wrote numerous other books about Greece, but this is his best… about a period I hope is never repeated.  

The Flight of Ikaros

By Kevin Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Flight of Ikaros as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the great and lasting books about Greece."—Patrick Leigh Fermor

"An intense and compelling account of an educated, sensitive archaeologist wandering the back country during the civil war. Half a century on, still one of the best books on Greece as it was before 'development.'"—The Rough Guide to the Greek Islands

"He also is in love with the country…but he sees the other side of that dazzling medal or moon…If you want some truth about Greece, here it is."—Louis MacNeice, The Observer

"One of the best and most honest books about the modern Greeks."—E. R. Dodds

"Kevin Andrews experienced…


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