Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, hat here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Nearly 2,500 years ago, in 480BC, at a bleak pass in a far-flung corner of eastern Greece, three hundred Spartan warriors faced the army of Xerxes of Persia, a massive force rumoured to be over a million strong. Their orders were simple- to delay the enemy for as long as possible while the main Greek armies mobilized. For six days the Spartans held the invaders at bay. In the final hours - their shields broken, swords and spears shattered - they fought with their bare hands before being overwhelmed. It was battle that would become synonymous with extraordinary courage, heroism and self-sacrifice- it was Thermopylae. In Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the epic story of those legendary Spartans- the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.
Steven Pressfield is the author of the bestselling historical novels Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Alexander- The Virtues of War and The Afghan Campaign. His new novel - Killing Rommel - will be published in Spring 2008. He lives in Los Angeles.