My Impressions of Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I started reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield which is all about the Spartan culture, training, and approach to life. The edition I was reading is Large Print with a total of 562 pages. I started by poring over the couple of maps of Greece and the Aegean and of Thermopylae, the latter being the focus of the story. I’ve been to that part of the world several years ago, so I was interested in learning more about the history of the battle there.

Mr. Pressfield is a very capable writer and storyteller. He’s created distinct and memorable characters to tell the story of the Spartans and how 300 of them held off an invasion for days. I can tell he’s done his research, he knows the ancient terms the Spartans used, their training techniques, and fighting skills. In short, he knows of what he speaks! Or should I say, writes.

It’s through no fault of the writer that I couldn’t finish this book. It’s more that I have never been interested in the battle strategies of history. What turned me off about history class was having to know who fought whom, the dates, the names, the places, without really knowing who those people were. I didn’t fall in love with history and thus historical fiction until I realized it was actually talking about how real people struggled and overcame obstacles. That’s the story I care about, not the fighting techniques and strategies employed.

That’s one of the joys of books, isn’t it? That there are so many on so many different topics that you can always find something good to read. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will find the details in Gates of Fire both fascinating and intriguing. If you like that kind of story, this one is for you! It really is well written and provides insight into how the Spartans defended what they believed in.

I’m going to switch to another story, another one from a Turkish author but set in Iran. The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali should be a story more to my liking. This one is a romance set against the political turmoil in the 1950s in Tehran, so I should learn something about that history as I read. I hope you’ll read along with me!

Happy reading!


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Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband… no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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