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Thread: Book Club (February 2007)

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    FORT Fogey Cornedbeef's Avatar
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    Book Club (February 2007)

    There wasn't enough time left in January to read a book. The book suggested should be the one people discuss.

  2. #2
    FORT Fogey Cornedbeef's Avatar
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    Taken from another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leftcoaster;2237114;
    I just finished Steven Pressfield's Gates Of Fire, a tale of the Battle of Thermopylae between the arrayed might of the minions of the Persian Empire and the token force of Spartans and their Hellenic allies.

    Brought tears to my eyes at a few points, what a magnificent recreation of a battle and a people.

    Far, far better than I'd have expected from the creator of The Legend Of Bagger Vance, though I base that on the movie, not the novel I never read.
    Quote Originally Posted by tvjunkie;2219341;
    Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

    Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie.
    Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world's greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300 Spartan knights and their allies faced the massive forces of Xerxes, King of Persia. From the start, there was no question but that the Spartans would perish. In Gates of Fire, however, Steven Pressfield makes their courageous defense--and eventual extinction--unbearably suspenseful.

    In the tradition of Mary Renault, this historical novel unfolds in flashback. Xeo, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, has been captured by the Persians, and Xerxes himself presses his young captive to reveal how his tiny cohort kept more than 100,000 Persians at bay for a week. Xeo, however, begins at the beginning, when his childhood home in northern Greece was overrun and he escaped to Sparta. There he is drafted into the elite Spartan guard and rigorously schooled in the art of war--an education brutal enough to destroy half the students, but (oddly enough) not without humor: "The more miserable the conditions, the more convulsing the jokes became, or at least that's how it seems," Xeo recalls. His companions in arms are Alexandros, a gentle boy who turns out to be the most courageous of all, and Rooster, an angry, half-Messenian youth.

    Pressfield's descriptions of war are breathtaking in their immediacy. They are also meticulously assembled out of physical detail and crisp, uncluttered metaphor:

    The forerank of the enemy collapsed immediately as the first shock hit it; the body-length shields seemed to implode rearward, their anchoring spikes rooted slinging from the earth like tent pins in a gale. The forerank archers were literally bowled off their feet, their wall-like shields caving in upon them like fortress redoubts under the assault of the ram.... The valor of the individual Medes was beyond question, but their light hacking blades were harmless as toys; against the massed wall of Spartan armor, they might as well have been defending themselves with reeds or fennel stalks.

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    FORT Fogey Cornedbeef's Avatar
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    I suggest you read The Long Walk to Freedom. I find Nelson Mandela, for what he accomplished, one of the most fascinating men alive.

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    FORT Fogey Cornedbeef's Avatar
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    Well this month is coming to an end. I would like to thank Leftcoaster and tvjunkie for their input on the book Gates of fire.

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