The most recommended books about Sparta

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to Sparta, and here are their favorite Sparta books.
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Book cover of Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese

Tony Spawforth Author Of What the Greeks Did for Us

From my list on travel in Greece, ancient and modern.

Who am I?

I became passionate about ancient Greece as a teenager when I studied the ancient languages and history at school. I was also lapping up ancient Greece on film—back then the so-so Burton-Taylor Cleopatra really impressed. I got enthused by historical novels too, Mary Renault’s especially. My first visit to Greece as a university student hooked me on modern Greece as well. Since then, I’ve become a professional academic specialising in ancient Greece and have been lucky enough to develop a lifelong relationship with modern as well as ancient Greeks. I lived in Greece for six years in my twenties, and have gone back repeatedly ever since. I’ve published widely on Greece’s ancient history and archaeology.

Tony's book list on travel in Greece, ancient and modern

Tony Spawforth Why did Tony love this book?

This book is a gem for lovers of Greece and of superlative English prose.

For me the book is far and away the best evocation of a wild and remote part of Greece that I got to know and treasure when tramping through its olive fields in search of ancient inscriptions. Leigh Fermor was incapable of writing a dull sentence.

His imagination allied with what he observed himself in his wanderings combine to bring out all the strangeness of Mani’s history of brigands and vendettas, of villages bristling with defensive towers and of fishermen descended—perhaps—from Byzantine emperors.   

By Patrick Leigh Fermor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mani as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is Patrick Leigh Fermor's spellbinding part-travelogue, part inspired evocation of a part of Greece's past. Joining him in the Mani, one of Europe's wildest and most isolated regions, cut off from the rest of Greece by the towering Taygettus mountain range and hemmed in by the Aegean and Ionian seas, we discover a rocky central prong of the Peleponnese at the southernmost point in Europe.

Bad communications only heightening the remoteness, this Greece - south of ancient Sparta - is one that maintains perhaps a stronger relationship with the ancient past than with the present. Myth becomes history, and…


Book cover of The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece

Tony Perrottet Author Of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

From my list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics.

Who am I?

As a historian, journalist, and travel writer, Tony Perrottet has made a career out of bringing the past to vivid life. Born in Australia, he started writing as a foreign correspondent in South America, where he covered guerrilla wars in Peru, drug running in Colombia, and military rebellions in Argentina. He continues to commute to Athens, Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, and Havana, while contributing to the Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He has written six books on subjects ranging from classical tourism to the Pope's "pornographic bathroom" in the Vatican, and most recently, ¡Cuba Libre!, an anecdotal account of the Cuban Revolution. His travel stories have been selected seven times for the Best American Travel Writing series, and he is a regular guest on the History Channel, where he has spoken about everything from the Crusades to the birth of disco.

Tony's book list on on the classical world to accompany the Olympics

Tony Perrottet Why did Tony love this book?

Of the over 1,000 independent city-states that made up the Hellenic world -- and competed in the Olympic Games -- Sparta is today the most notorious and influential (after Athens). This book provides a wonderful insight into its extraordinary culture, where Spartan males were brought up in a strict, even ruthless regime of military training, discipline, and self-sacrifice for the communal good -- but where women were given unexpected freedom and power.

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Spartan legend has inspired and captivated subsequent generations with evidence of its legacy found in both the Roman and British Empires. The Spartans are our ancestors, every bit as much as the Athenians. But while Athens promoted democracy, individualism, culture and society, their great rivals Sparta embodied militarism, totalitarianism, segregation and brutal repression. As ruthless as they were self-sacrificing, their devastatingly successful war rituals made the Spartans the ultimate fighting force, epitomized by Thermopylae. While slave masters to the Helots for over three centuries, Spartan women, such as Helen of Troy, were free to indulge in education, dance and…


Book cover of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece

Paul Cartledge Author Of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece

From my list on ancient Greece and their world.

Who am I?

I have studied Classics and Ancient Greek history since my teens, I read ‘Greats’ (Ancient History and Philosophy) at Oxford, completed an archaeological doctorate on early Sparta also at Oxford (1975), while spending my teaching career (1972-2014) in Northern and Southern Ireland, and in England at Warwick and Cambridge Universities. I retired as the inaugural, endowed A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture before taking up my current position as A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. I have been the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of some 30 books on ancient Greek history, most recently Thebes: the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece.

Paul's book list on ancient Greece and their world

Paul Cartledge Why did Paul love this book?

Not – repeat not – because I am its editor and wrote more than half of it but mainly because this is I believe the one-volume, one-stop-shop book to have on your shelves or digitally on your computer if you want to gain something like a complete understanding and appreciation of the world or rather worlds of Ancient Greece. I can do no better than quote from the ‘blurb’ provided online by the C.U.P. itself.

It is sumptuously illustrated throughout, almost entirely in colour. It offers fresh interpretations of the whole range of ‘Classical’ Greek culture, different aspects of which are expertly handled by members of an international cast of top-notch scholars both male and female. These aspects include: the influences of the environment and economy; the effects of interstate tensions; the implications of (bi-, homo-, hetero-normative) sexuality; the experiences of workers, soldiers, slaves, peasants and women; and the roles…

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sumptuously illustrated in colour and packed with fascinating information, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece is now available for the first time in a revised paperback edition. Offering fresh interpretations of classical Greek culture, the book devotes as much attention to social, economic, sexual and intellectual aspects as to politics and war. Paul Cartledge and his team ask what it was like for an ordinary person to partake in 'the glory that was Greece'. They examine the influences of the environment and economy; the effect of interstate tensions; the implications of sexuality; the experience of workers, soldiers, slaves, peasants…


Book cover of Love and Vengenace

Nancy Kimball Author Of Unseen Love

From my list on that put the Roman in romance.

Who am I?

When I watched the Ridley Scott film Gladiator for the first time, I knew then my heart belonged in Ancient Rome. Countless books, films, research papers, museums, and shenanigans later, that is still true. I was a master of make-believe by age ten, and when the time was right, both passions fused into my debut novel, also set in Ancient Rome. I don’t want to just read or write a good book. I want to experience Ancient Rome vicariously through powerful characters that linger in my memory long after the last page. If that’s you too, give these a try. 

Nancy's book list on that put the Roman in romance

Nancy Kimball Why did Nancy love this book?

If Game of Thrones and the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand had a baby, it would be this novel. I know that’s a Greek Spartan on the cover, but if you can overlook that, there’s a very good story weaving through the horrible fates being thrown at Marcus and Gustina. And I mean seriously horrible. What this story lacks in deep point of view, and strong characterization, it makes up for with well-written, albeit very, very graphic, sex and violence. Part of me died when Andy Whitfield did, so this story in its own way is a road back to what was the absolute best, and worst, depending on your perspective, of the decadence and brutality that was Ancient Rome.

By Gina Danna,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Under the heel of Mighty Rome, this gladiator must win this battle over love and vengeance!

Rome 108 A.D., under the Emperor Trajan, is the center of the civilized world. It is a time of sophistication and decadence, a brutal world to their conquered.

Marcus, a Roman citizen sentenced to die as a gladiator, accused by his wife and brother for a crime he did not commit. Yet death eludes him and he rises to become champion of the sands. The title he does not want. He seeks revenge but his victories in the Colosseum bestow monetary rewards he can…


Book cover of The Endless Skies

Kalyn Josephson Author Of The Storm Crow

From my list on YA books with magical animals.

Who am I?

There’s something truly magical about the bond people between and animals, whether it be in stories with animal companions, or books about mythical creatures who are actually just metaphors for life’s monsters or magic. It’s something I include in all my stories, from the cats that make a hard day a little easier, to the fantastical beasts rooted in a society’s survival. There’s always something new to learn from them, and I hope you enjoy these stories about them as much as I did!

Kalyn's book list on YA books with magical animals

Kalyn Josephson Why did Kalyn love this book?

Winged! Lion! Shifters! What more could you want? Maybe a simmering romance? A warrior society reminiscent of Sparta? A floating kingdom? This book has all that and more. Set against the backdrop of a harrowing race against time, this book is perfect for fans of Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young and Wonder Woman, with core themes of friendship, family, and loyalty.

This book is all the magic, action, and romance you could want from a YA fantasy.

By Shannon Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shannon Price's The Endless Skies is a breakout standalone epic fantasy about shapeshifting warriors perfect for fans of Adrienne Young and Wonder Woman.

High above the sea, floats the pristine city of the Heliana. Home to winged-lion shapeshifters-the Leonodai-and protected from the world of humans by an elite group of warriors, the Heliana has only known peace.

After years of brutal training, seventeen-year-old Rowan is ready to prove her loyalty to the city and her people to become one of the Leonodai warriors. But before Rowan can take the oath, a deadly disease strikes the city's children. Soon the warriors-including…


Book cover of Okela: Espartanos en Cantabria

Christian Zamora Salamanca Author Of The legacy of Sparta

From my list on the great Spartan Nation.

Who am I?

My passion for the Spartans and ancient history in general comes from the iconic idea that those men needed to have a lot of courage to face the battles they faced and survive that. These soldiers faced terrible deaths in every battle to defend their families, their lands, their cities. More specifically, the ability of the Spartans to understand that through suffering and lack they could become stronger even if that meant suffering it in their flesh or seeing their children suffer. The different ways of understanding the world by the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Celts... is something incredible.

Christian's book list on the great Spartan Nation

Christian Zamora Salamanca Why did Christian love this book?

The ease of reading of this author is fascinating. He also manages to tell us a story that he connects in a wonderful way with some Roman remains found in the north of Spain. Definitely a great read if the reader can read Spanish. It is full of exciting and brilliant moments that the reader of ancient history will undoubtedly appreciate.

By Pedro Santamaría Fernández,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Madrid. 23 cm. 426 p. Encuadernacin en tapa blanda de editorial ilustrada. Coleccin 'Histrica'. Santamara, Pedro 1975-. Histrica (Ediciones Pmies) .. Este libro es de segunda mano y tiene o puede tener marcas y seales de su anterior propietario. ISBN: 9788496952867


Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Andrew Lubin Author Of Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq

From my list on famous battles that make you want to be there.

Who am I?

When reading about famous battles such as Thermopylae, Tarawa, the Chosin Reservoir, or Taffy-3’s gallantry off Samar: have you ever wondered “what makes young men fight against such overwhelming odds?” Or a more important question: “would I do the same?” I know I wondered. Both my mom and dad were WW2 Marines, and I was raised with the stories of the Marines at Tarawa wading a half-mile ashore against horrific Japanese fire, along with their epic Korean War 79-mile fighting retreat in -50’F bitter cold and snow while grossly outnumbered by the Chinese army; these were often our dinnertime discussions and impromptu leadership lessons.

Andrew's book list on famous battles that make you want to be there

Andrew Lubin Why did Andrew love this book?

We all know the story of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans fight heroically for three days against an overwhelming Persian force, with the Spartans all killed during the three-day fight as Greece used their lives to buy time to successfully defend itself. But historical fiction Gates of Fire adds a new twist: as the Persians are pulling the bodies off the battlefield, they find a sole wounded Spartan, and after nursing him back to health, have him recount the battle from the Spartan viewpoint.

Author Steven Pressfield, a former Marine, is a superb storyteller as he describes the battle – and Spartan training - in a gripping blend of courage, humor, ethics, and brilliant historical research. Xeones, the survivor, was a squire to the Spartans, and had trained with them. “War is work,” he explains, “with conditions contrived to make the exercise as close as possible to the actual campaign.” “Shared misery…

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…


Book cover of Termópilas (Grandes Batallas)

Christian Zamora Salamanca Author Of The legacy of Sparta

From my list on the great Spartan Nation.

Who am I?

My passion for the Spartans and ancient history in general comes from the iconic idea that those men needed to have a lot of courage to face the battles they faced and survive that. These soldiers faced terrible deaths in every battle to defend their families, their lands, their cities. More specifically, the ability of the Spartans to understand that through suffering and lack they could become stronger even if that meant suffering it in their flesh or seeing their children suffer. The different ways of understanding the world by the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Celts... is something incredible.

Christian's book list on the great Spartan Nation

Christian Zamora Salamanca Why did Christian love this book?

The legendary feat of the 300 Spartans who sacrificed for their city and their ideals is narrated in an excellent way in this book that also accurately reflects the way of thinking and understanding the world. A highly recommended reading for those who wish to learn about the world of the Spartans. In this story are the most important events of that historic moment.

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Termópilas (Grandes Batallas) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Viajero, ve a Esparta y cuenta que aquí hemos muerto en obediencia a sus leyes” dicen las célebres palabras del poeta Simónides que glorifican el heroísmo de los 300 guerreros espartanos que, liderados por Leónidas, dieron sus vidas en el paso de las Termópilas, conteniendo al enorme ejército del rey persa Jejes. Esta batalla fue un auténtico choque entre civilizaciones y la leyenda del heroísmo y sacrificio de la élite de guerreros espartanos en defensa de la libertad de su patria fue esencial para definir la identidad de la Grecia clásica y sus ecos llegan hasta nuestros días. La de…


Book cover of Hunting the Eagles

Christian Zamora Salamanca Author Of The legacy of Sparta

From my list on the great Spartan Nation.

Who am I?

My passion for the Spartans and ancient history in general comes from the iconic idea that those men needed to have a lot of courage to face the battles they faced and survive that. These soldiers faced terrible deaths in every battle to defend their families, their lands, their cities. More specifically, the ability of the Spartans to understand that through suffering and lack they could become stronger even if that meant suffering it in their flesh or seeing their children suffer. The different ways of understanding the world by the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Celts... is something incredible.

Christian's book list on the great Spartan Nation

Christian Zamora Salamanca Why did Christian love this book?

A wonderful book that will show us the story of a Roman soldier, his experiences, his way of thinking, and his ability to rebuild himself. We can also learn a lot about Roman culture and their way of seeing the world. A great book that leaves no one indifferent. I really recommend this book because it shows the importance of not giving up in the face of different circumstances and changes that occur in life. I recommend this book to all types of readers.

By Ben Kane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 'the rising star of historical fiction' (Wilbur Smith) a new Eagles of Rome novel, by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Eagles at War.

JUSTICE , HONOUR, REVENGE

AD 14: Five long years have passed since the annihilation of three legions in the wilds of Germania.

Demoted, battle-scarred and hell-bent on revenge, Centurion Tullus and his legionaries begin their fightback. Ranged against them is the charismatic chieftan Arminius, determined to crush the Romans for a second time.

Convinced that the eagle belonging to his old legion is close at hand, Tullus drives ever deeper into enemy lands.

But with…


Book cover of Aretes de Esparta (Histórica)

Christian Zamora Salamanca Author Of The legacy of Sparta

From my list on the great Spartan Nation.

Who am I?

My passion for the Spartans and ancient history in general comes from the iconic idea that those men needed to have a lot of courage to face the battles they faced and survive that. These soldiers faced terrible deaths in every battle to defend their families, their lands, their cities. More specifically, the ability of the Spartans to understand that through suffering and lack they could become stronger even if that meant suffering it in their flesh or seeing their children suffer. The different ways of understanding the world by the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Celts... is something incredible.

Christian's book list on the great Spartan Nation

Christian Zamora Salamanca Why did Christian love this book?

I don't know if this book has an English version, but it should still be recommended because it is the book that introduced me to the world of the Spartans, their ideology, and their way of understanding the world. For me, it is a book for seniors written as if it were for children. A fluent reading that guides you through the emotions of the protagonist, getting to share her joys and her illusions. Definitely a must-read if you want to enjoy the exciting world of ancient history.

By Lluís Prats Martínez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aretes de Esparta (Histórica) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

«Recuerdo que, de niña, antes de acostarme, me sentaba en las rodillas del abuelo Laertes y él dejaba que acariciara su barba blanca y recorriera con los dedos las arrugas y las cicatrices que adornaban su rostro solemne. Luego el abuelo decía para sí: ―Ha sido el miedo. El miedo al persa, el horror a perder la libertad, lo que ha hecho que Esparta se convierta en lo que es ahora. Es el miedo la causa de que ya no haya tiempo para la música o la poesía». Esparta, 432 a.C. Aretes, anciana lacedemonia, se dispone a recordar los acontecimientos…