A gripping account of the twilight of the Roman Republic and its bloody transformation into empire; the story of Caesar’s generation, thrillingly told.
The First World Empire and the Battle for the West
Preface by the author
Hand-drawn maps and a new image selection illustrate the Folio Society edition of Persian Fire – the bloodthirsty clash of civilisations by the master of classical history, Tom Holland.
In 480 BC, Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece as part of his greater plan of world domination. With a force greatly outnumbering the opposition, conquest seemed a formality: the city states of Greece were considered small strategic obstacles to be swept aside. However, the reality panned out rather differently and a dramatic and bloody half-century of warfare ensued with the Greeks ultimately forcing the Persians to retreat and retaining control of their homeland against incredible odds.
‘Masterly, panoramic, gripping’
Bound in printed and blocked cloth with a design by Kent Barton
Set in Spectrum
Frontispiece, 24 pages of colour plates and 15 black & white integrated maps
10˝ x 6¾˝
A compelling history
Tom Holland’s epic account of this pivotal period in history grips from the outset with gritty realism and dramatic tension. The bloody conflict involved great tactical clashes on land and sea that tested the mettle of both sides; and what the Greeks lacked in numbers, they made up for with superior military tactics, many of which were unfamiliar to the Persian invaders. Hoplites – Greek citizen soldiers – fought in a phalanx formation, whereby the shields of each man overlapped slightly with his neighbour’s to offer greater protection, while lighter armour and weaponry allowed for greater mobility.
The superlative writer of classical history
Holland’s skill at placing readers in the epicentre of the action is apparent in the exhilarating scenes that liberally populate the narrative. Historical integrity is at the heart of all Holland’s writing but it is his ability to elucidate the drama of the battles that makes his books so memorable – factual history that usurps fiction at every turn.
‘All the elements that made the first book (Rubicon) so exhilarating – his erudition and narrative zest – are present and correct in Persian Fire, and the book contains one moment of drama (his description of the charge at the battle of Marathon as seen from inside the Greek hoplites’ helmets) that will give you goosebumps.’
- Sunday Times
The battles are recounted with dramatic narrative zeal, including Marathon – the encounter that revealed the courage and superior tactics of the Greek hoplite soldiers while highlighting chinks in the armour of the Spartan battle-plan; Salamis – a pivotal naval battle that brought together several disparate Greek states to fight as one opposing force; and the legendary battle of Thermopylae; the heroic last stand of King Leonidas and his Spartan forces.
A unique edition of a best-seller
Our edition is illustrated with a new picture selection which includes gold artefacts from the Oxus treasure, statues and reliefs from the royal palaces of Persepolis and Susa, and a bronze Persian helmet from the Battle of Marathon. Fifteen new hand-drawn maps detail political boundaries – such as Greece, Attica and the West – and battle strategies, including Marathon, Plataea and Thermopylae. The cloth binding features an imposing full-page portrait of a sculpture from Persepolis by celebrated artist Ken Barton.