Book Report: Gates of Fire

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Book Report
BY LCPL SCHAFTE, RYAN M

TITLE: GATES OF FIRE
AUTHOR: STEPHEN PRESSFIELD
PUBLISHER: DOUBLEDAY
PUBLISHED: 1998
PAGES: 400
COST: BASE LIBRARY
The author utilizes his experience as a former Marine to create a story of camaraderie and dedication to one’s country, even at the cost of paying the ultimate price for a nation to be free from tyranny. The concepts of self-sacrifice, service, community, camaraderie, and duty are the thematic core of this historic novel. I believe this book, Gates of Fire, was written with passion and a definite moral, that being for a nation to be free, no sacrifice is too large. It spans the years leading up to, during, and shortly after the legendary Battle of Thermopylae through the eyes of a Spartan helot by the name of Xeones. It shows the fortitude and strength of character required by the Spartans to defy the Persian aggressor Xerxes, buying time for their country to prepare a proper defense with their lives. Steven Pressfield does more than just tell the story of what happened during the battle of Thermopylae (which in and of itself is a phenomenal story), he uses it as a backdrop for studying the psychological makeup of what a soldier should be. There is more philosophy in this book than one would expect from a war novel, but this is why I consider it both insightful and inspiring. Gates of Fire is told through the perspective of the Spartan helot Xeones, as he begins his training to become a soldier for Sparta, which takes several years. As the story progresses, tensions rise between Greece and Persia as Persia’s expansionist attitude threatens Greece’s freedom once again. When word reaches King Leonidas that Xerxes, king of Persia, has crossed the straight from the Anatolian Peninsula and was on his way with a massive army to crush the Hellenic nations of Sparta and Athens, he seeks permission to mobilize a force to meet Xerxes on the field of battle and deny him entry into the Greek domain. It is at this...
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