Puertas De Fuego
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Puertas De Fuego

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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  13,019 ratings  ·  1,100 reviews
Thousands of years ago, Herodotus & Plutarch immortalized Spartan society in their histories. Today, little is left of the ancient city or the social structure of this culture. One of the few antiquarian marks of the civilization that has survived lies scores of miles away from Sparta, at a narrow Greek mountain pass called Thermopylae. It was there that three hundred...more
Published (first published October 20th 1998)
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Randy
Gates of Fire is one of my favorite books...ever. I first read it back when I was in the Marine Corps. It was on the Commandant’s Reading List for a time - required reading for any motivated teufelhund. The author himself is a former Marine, and draws upon his experiences to create a compellingly insightful look at the mental and psychological makeup of a soldier. The concepts of self-sacrifice, service, community, camaraderie, and duty are the thematic core of this historic novel. Steven Pres...more
Terri
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said here on it's review page...ah, not much. :-)
It is a terrific book. Dense, and detailed and clever and, in many places, exhilarating. Sometimes I felt that the author was being too clever. Sacrificing flow for sometimes not so relevant story background. There is quite a lot of too-ing and fro-ing in this book. Jumping backwards and forwards between different times and sometimes it worked for me and sometimes it didn't. That is why I nea...more
Smokey
Jul 20, 2008 Smokey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Service members and those who wish to understand them
Recommended to Smokey by: Gift from a friend
Soldiers are philosophers by trade, as opposed to nature. Whether they are gifted logicians or readers or not, their profession demands a close association with death and life, fear and courage, love and hate, joy and sorrow. A soldier gets acquainted with these, not as abstract ideas, but as intimate realities which are a part of the day-to-day environment.

When faced with such larger-than-life concepts, though, words often fail, no matter how important or meaningful a place they hold in every d...more
Richard
Oct 10, 2007 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Greek History, Military History, Historical Fiction
Steven Pressfield's first foray into historical fiction is a masterful account of the battle of Themopylae (thermos = hot, warm, fire; pylos = spring or gate; hence "Gates of Fire").

Told from the perspective of a captured, critically wounded Spartan helot (all the Spartans died, after all) who is being questioned by Xerxes (King of Persia) for information about the Greeks, the story presents a sympathetic, insider view of Spartan society and accurately presents the values of Greek civilization i...more
Derek
I don't think I'll be forgetting this book anytime soon. It is an instant favorite. I love books that do this to me. Gates of Fire gave me the chills. It made me laugh out loud, and it made me cry(yeah..I said it. I cried). Striving to overcome fear is a major theme in this book, and that's what I'm doing now. I have phobos when it comes to posting reviews.
I thought the author did a masterful job of bringing the Spartan culture to life. I felt fully immersed in their life throughout this book. T...more
Cranky
I chose this book reluctantly from my library's audiobook shelf. I thought I should read it because my knowledge of ancient history was pretty gap-filled, and because at some point I'm planning to rent "300" and this would be good background. I always pick up books I "should" read with grudging feelings.

Well. I was foolish to have hesitated over it, because this book is excellent. I'm just a few tracks from the end, and I feel wrecked by it. Knowing the outcome makes no difference--and even thos...more
Artemas
Absolutely amazing. Anyone interested in ancient history or military fiction simply must read "Gates of Fire." By Zeus, this is one of those books that everyone should read, regardless of what their favorite genre is. Steven Pressfield has an amazing gift for transplanting the reader into his era of choice.

I could attempt to spend hours writing a witty review, but ultimately it would not do this book justice. So do yourself a favor and add it to your "To Read" shelf or the gods will surely curse...more
David
I read this entertaining 1998 historical novel, which glorifies the ancient military dictatorship of Sparta, in part because it cost only $7.99 for a Kindle download. Then I realized that I couldn't write a coherent review of it, because I still, in spite of the intervening years, am an incandescent tower of blistering but impotent rage at the senseless loss of life and treasure which resulted from the blunderings of the George W. Bush administration in the Middle East in the first decade of thi...more
Trevor
Jun 13, 2009 Trevor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: Richard
Shelves: history, literature
This was an interesting book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it and had thought it would be a book of history, but was actually a work of historical fiction. It was well told and, from what I know, an accurate enough telling of the story of the 300. Herodotus also tells this story in his histories and it is hardly surprising that a tale of so few holding off an army of so many should be remembered as one of the great military stories of all time. This one is told through the eyes of a capture...more
David
Having just finished all the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, this was a strong change of perspective and tone. I was initially disturbed by the depictions of war and life in ancient Greece. Whether I adjusted over the first hundred pages or it's simply that the most disturbing material is in the beginning, I can't say. I do know that I quickly became engrossed in both the story and setting.

Now I want to see the armor and weapons from the time period so I can better understand the phalanx...more
Laurentiu Lazar
First of all, I am proud to have visited the spot in Greece where supposedly the battle/drama of Thermopylae took place. Wonderful to be able to interact with history, even if it's in such a small way.

"Study the past if you would define the future." by Confucius

"Gates of Fire" is a fictional novel, with very accurate historical facts due to the author's thorough research.

This book was way better than I expected and it made me care for the characters and to some degree raised some inner self que...more
Bryn Hammond
Written with passion, and with a clear intention to present the experience of soldiers, whenever they lived. The result isn't anachronism but a reality lent to ancient Greece, along with a timelessness.

The highs and lows of the soldier's life are here. I say lows because those Spartans were mad as a cut snake, in my eyes. Highs: you know of the self-sacrifice at Thermopylae.
Dhiraj Sharma
“Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung
Life to be sure is nothing much to loose
But young men think it is and we were young”

What motivates men to lay down their lives in war…is it love for the country, motivation of leaders, zeal to defend your loved ones or to attain glory by martyrdom. You have cases of Banzai charge of Japanese soldiers or their Kamikaze Air attacks. Closer home you have the last stand of 21 Sikhs who valiantly defended their...more
Dawn (& Ron)
Dec 14, 2011 Dawn (& Ron) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ancient history, Greece & historical fiction readers
One of our favorite reads! It is one we often loan out and it always seems to strike a chord with everyone we have lent it to. So much so, our original copy never made it back home to us forcing us to pick up another one recently. After all we have to have it on hand to loan out, don't we? Our friend's 13 year old son is next.

We can't say why is it such a popular read, only that it is compelling, gut wrenching, mind searing battle scenes and simply, moving. It is moving in how it shows the frien...more
Jason Golomb
"Gates of Fire" is a majestic novel focused on the actions of 300 Spartans defending Hellas from the vast invading Persian hordes. It's story is large, the characters heroic. It's not, however, epic. At least not in its claustrophobic feel. The epic-ness resides in the well-travelled deeds of the Spartans then, just not in this book.

Honor is a most valued trait. Long Homeric speeches bolster mens' bravery. And within this glory-driven, very testosterone-heavy vibe, we see only glimpses of the hu...more
Ross
The action is a pulse-pounding, intense-type awesome whirlwind that will make history rise from the ashes of ages past, grab you by the throat, and shake the hell out of you. But it is much more than that. This novel is epic in a real sense, in that sense of choosing to be swept up into a world much larger than the selfishness of personal endeavors. It inspires thought.
The graphic novel/movie 300 was based heavily on this book and they were more about telling the myth that became of the battle o...more
Stan
Highly recommended to me, but highly disappointing. This is a romanticized historical fictional account of the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae against the massively superior forces of Xerxes. It does offer a depiction of the warrior culture of Sparta. But the writing: trite, tedious, melodramatic, sometimes overly flowery faux archaic, and at others base sixth grade genital/excrement humor. One of the major humor touchstones was a character whose catchphrase was "Wake up to this", which cracked e...more
Dragos
The qualities of a good battle squire are simple enough. He must be dumb as a mule, numb as a post and obedient as an imbecile. In these qualifications, Xeones of Astakos, I declare your credentials impeccable.

This is how Xeones, one of the main characters of the book, is described at some time in the story. Ironically the entire book revolves around this helot character who ends up being an eye witness of the battle of Thermopylae. The book itself tries to be an historical reference intercalat...more
Marina
In 480 B.C., an invading Persian army, two-million strong, came to the mountain pass of Thermopylae in eastern Greece. Led by King Xerxes, they were met by the finest three hundred Spartan warriors where the rocky confines were so narrow that the Persian multitudes and their cavalry would be at least partially neutralized. Here, the Greek loyalists hoped, the elite force could hold off, at least for a short while, the invading millions.

The well-known story of the 300 Spartans lies in the base of...more
Brittany
"War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in a man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder the meanest of men may seek find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, my
...more
Nate
I originally gave this five stars but looking back the constant switching of time and place got irritating near the end. It was fine at first, but when you're in the middle of the gripping titular battle the last thing you want is to zoom away to some other point in time. This is probably the most I've ever learned about the realities and intricacies of war from a single book. If you want a good way to find out exactly why the Spartans are still revered as amazing soldiers today read this book....more
John Nevola
Pressfield's Gates of Fire is one the best historical novels of ancient Greece and the Battle of Thermopylae ever written! Told through the eyes of the sole Spartan survivor (squire) of the battle to King Xerxes of Persia after the fact, it describes the unique Spartan sense of values that resulted in 300 of its elite hoplites to stand and die against half a million Persians. Xerxes was anxious to find out what motivated such men to perish rather than surrender and Xeones, the slave-squire, desc...more
Max Stone
There are few subjects more naturally interesting than the contrasting / co-existing / conflicting (most of the time) societies of Athens and Sparta.

Athens, having all the good authors, good architects, good artists, good philosophers, etc. has tended to get portrayed pretty well.

Maybe it is just my ignorance, but this is the first thing I read which dealt at length and basically lovingly (in a violent sort of way; this is Sparta after all) with Sparta. I thought the best parts of the book wer...more
GeekChick
When I first tried reading this book about the Battle of Thermopylae, after a while I just had to put it down. I didn't know if it was because I just didn't like it, or if it was because it wasn't the right time to read it. So I tried again.

Forgive me for saying something like this, but it's clear the book is written by a man. There is way too much detail, but absolutely no emotional foundation. I think one of the reviewers captured it best when he/she commented on Pressfield's ability in writin...more
k.wing
Apr 17, 2013 k.wing rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers/lovers of ridiculous cuss words
Recommended to k.wing by: Nic
***Review from April 2013***

I liked Gates of Fire quite a bit more this time around. I'm able to appreciate Pressfield's writing and choice of characterization better. He chose the perfect character to tell the story through, and appreciated the format in which he decided to tell the story.

-Increased rating from 2 stars to 3 stars-


***Review from July 2007***

Jam-packed with action, ridiculous cuss-word combos, and some love for womens' courage. Not the best thing I've ever read, but certainly no...more
Mike (the Paladin)
The Battle of Thermopylae is nothing short of a turning point in history that decided if there would be a western world. This is a good and interesting dramatization.

Told through the eyes of Xeones a young man who's become a Helot (a type of slave). Having been enslaved by the Spartans as a young man he becomes in Gate of Fire the only Hellenistic survivor of the Battle of Thermopylae.

This book is one of the best fictional or fictionalized accounts of the battle. This historical fiction is used...more
Dani
I usually don't like war books because I think that battle scenes are boring, but this book was amazing. Very little of the book is actually composed of battle scenes, and the ones that are in the book are actually very engaging. The writing is great and there is a lot of amazing character development. Truly Epic!
Kenny
The best part of historical novels (I think) are that they are based on true events. These things really happened. The dialogue might not be word for word what the characters said in real life, but you can still tell the author went to great lengths of research when putting in that dialogue. Having said that, those conversations between the characters make me feel like I was there during the conflict with the Persians and Spartans. I love that feeling. Also, there is a lot one can learn about ca...more
T Moore
Where to begin?

The Gates of Fire, in my mind, is the best historical fiction novel that I have ever read. I have read over a 1000 at the very least. I have enjoyed reading it many times over.

His entire Greek series is excellent - until he stumbles in his Afghan Campaign IMO (Where he cannot resist comparing the ancient Greek soldiers to today's "trooper/squadie" fighting in the quagmire of the endless Globalist imperial wars for profit.)

However, that Pressfield is a reactionary and a militaris...more
Samanta Bićanić
In this novel we see the Battle of Thremopylae through the eyes of a "mere" squire Xeones (a non - Spartan born man who willingly came to Sparta as a child to learn from them). At the beginning of the novel Xeones is a prisoner of Xerxes after the Battle has ended. He tells his story from his own beginnings and continues to the end of the Battle. Through his story we experience first hand the way Spartans lived, thought and behaved so this book for me represents an encyclopedia of Spartan way of...more
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867
I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943 to a Navy father and mother.

I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place a...more
More about Steven Pressfield...
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“A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men's loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them...A king does not expend his substance to enslave men, but by his conduct and example makes them free.” 35 likes
“Nothing fires the warrior’s heart more with courage than to find himself and his comrades at the point of annihilation, at the brink of being routed and overrun, and then to dredge not merely from one’s own bowels or guts but from one’s discipline and training the presence of mind not to panic, not to yield to the possession of despair, but instead to complete those homely acts of order which Dienekes had ever declared the supreme accomplishment of the warrior: to perform the commonplace under far-from-commonplace conditions.” 27 likes
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