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Persian Fire - First World Empire And The…
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Persian Fire - First World Empire And The Battle For The West (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Tom Holland (Author)

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1,673327,196 (4.06)98
In 480 B.C.E., Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For seventy years, victory--rapid, spectacular victory--had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. They had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks managed to hold out. Had the Greeks been defeated in the epochal naval battle at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such an entity as the West at all. Historian Holland combines scholarly rigor with novelistic depth and finds extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own.--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:mfagan
Title:Persian Fire - First World Empire And The Battle For The West
Authors:Tom Holland (Author)
Info:Doubleday (2005), Edition: First edition/Full number line, 448 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

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Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West by Tom Holland (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I recently read The Classical World by Robin Lane Fox, which makes only a passing mention of the Battle at Thermopylae, Battle of Salamis and the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, King of Persia. So I decided to fill in the gap with Persian Fire by Tom Holland.

The author provides a well written narrative of the rise of the Persian Empire, the political experimenting/squabbling of the Greek city-states (such as Sparta and Athens) and the eventual clash of Persia and Greece. Holland has the ability to make long-dead people (e.g.Darius, Xerxes, and Leonidas), as well as ancient battles, come alive on the page.

Enough battle details and maps are provided to explain what is going on without bogging the text down with minute details. The author also provided a timeline at the back of the book, so you know when everything is happening. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
I Bought Persian Fire in Heathrow returning from Morocco. We had spent the night before with my wife's brother in Reading. Having returned from the dually (you know what I mean) arid Marrakesch, we were greeted with a bounty of Czech pilsners. The following morning I was half-pained and entirely groggy. I bought this upon entering the airport. It was only then that we discovered that our flight had changed gates and we literally dashed for 45 minutes until we arrived for our flight, dripping with exertion. I started to read as we underwent the 33 trials of boarding a plane bound for the United States.

Holland establishes these ancient matters with contemporary models without losing focus on the epoch and not falling prey to any jingoistic east/west dynamics. In fact the heroes of this portrait, if we are to accept such, should be the Taliban of our own day and age. The Spartans were tough, as were the Persians. Thomas Hobbes understood the stakes. So does Tom Holland. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I enjoyed this history, even though I suspect it skated close to fiction at times. There was a little too much authorial opinion colouring the text. ( )
  NKarman | Mar 4, 2018 |
This book is well-written and interesting, but as a non-specialist I found the chronology a bit confusing. To complete his project, the author has to jump back and forth in time to cover events that are happening simultaneously in different places, and without much background on the period I found it sometimes hard to keep up. If you decide to tackle this as a non-specialist, I would suggest reading through a couple chapters on the period from a standard textbook first. But the time period is so important it's definitely worth the work. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Tom Holland's Persian Fire is a very readable overview of the rise of the Persian empire as well as the rise of both Sparta and Athens. By starting with the rise of Persia, Holland helps you view the Persian wars from the Persian point of view and not just the Greek point of view you see in most textbooks. The book is also full of facts about the Greeks that I did not see in my high school text books. ( )
  M_Clark | Feb 28, 2016 |
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Listen now to a further point: no mortal thing
Has a beginning, nor does it end in death and obliteration;
There is only a mixing and then a separating of what was mixed,
But by mortal men these processes are named “beginnings.”
Empedocles
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For Jamie and Caroline
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The gods, having scorned to mold a world that was level, had preferred instead to divide it into two.
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