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Thread: Books about the battle at Thermopylae?

  1. #1
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    Books about the battle at Thermopylae?

    I've been quite interested in this story for a while, and now that the movie 300 is coming out, its rekindled my interest. But all I know about the history is bits read off the internet. So does anyone know about a good, reliable book to tell me about the history of the battle, the people involved, and the battle itself?

    I started to read Gates of Fire, and I like it, but beeing a novel rather than a non-fiction history book, I dont know which bits are true and what the author just makes up.
    SCHOLA GLADIATORIA

    Mrs. Whitaker peered at the sword. "It must be very sharp", she said, after a while.
    "It can slice a falling hair in twain. Nay, it could slice a sunbeam," said Galaad proudly.
    "Well, then maybe you should put it away," said Mrs. Whitaker.

    Neil Gaiman, Chivalry

  2. #2
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    Einar,

    It's not a book, but there's a History Channel program called Decisive Battles that uses video game technology to show the actual battles with historical narration and commentary by scholars. Thermoptlae is one of the 13 ancient battles depicted in the series. I found them all very compelling to watch and just recently bought the entire series on DVD at Borders. I can't recommend it enough!

    So is Hollywood producing a new movie about it ? The only book I know of is a graphic novel called 300 by Frank Miller of Sin City fame. I have a hardbound edition and while I admire Miller's art and storytelling ability, it's clear he didn't bother doing much historical research. Maybe the movie might at least try to get it right.

    Good luck in your search. It's truly an event the world should remember.

    Bob
    "Here they fight with Messers. God help them!"

    Hans Talhoffer, 1467

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobJenks View Post
    Einar,

    It's not a book, but there's a History Channel program called Decisive Battles that uses video game technology to show the actual battles with historical narration and commentary by scholars. Thermoptlae is one of the 13 ancient battles depicted in the series. I found them all very compelling to watch and just recently bought the entire series on DVD at Borders. I can't recommend it enough!

    So is Hollywood producing a new movie about it ? The only book I know of is a graphic novel called 300 by Frank Miller of Sin City fame. I have a hardbound edition and while I admire Miller's art and storytelling ability, it's clear he didn't bother doing much historical research. Maybe the movie might at least try to get it right.

    Good luck in your search. It's truly an event the world should remember.

    Bob
    Thanks, Bob. maybe I'll check out that series.

    The movie is based on the graphic novel, so dont expect it to be any more accurate than the comic is. I'm really looking forward to it myself though, because I'm a Miller fan (even though I havent read that particular comic). I'll just choose to view it as a fantasy movie in a historical setting.

    Pics and trailers can be found here btw: http://300themovie.warnerbros.com/
    SCHOLA GLADIATORIA

    Mrs. Whitaker peered at the sword. "It must be very sharp", she said, after a while.
    "It can slice a falling hair in twain. Nay, it could slice a sunbeam," said Galaad proudly.
    "Well, then maybe you should put it away," said Mrs. Whitaker.

    Neil Gaiman, Chivalry

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Einar Drønnesund View Post
    The movie is based on the graphic novel, so dont expect it to be any more accurate than the comic is. I'm really looking forward to it myself though, because I'm a Miller fan (even though I havent read that particular comic). I'll just choose to view it as a fantasy movie in a historical setting.
    I SO can't wait until March. Almost pure make-believe with a few historical points and quotes thrown in for effect, but I personally go to movies to escape real life and be entertained for a couple hours. If I wanted grim reality, I'd watch the news or volunteer at a hospice.
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause."

    ---The Iliad of Homer, Book xii, Line 283


    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner; Liberty is a well-armed lamb."
    ---Benjamin Franklin

  5. #5
    Some of the definitive books are:

    Thermopylae: Battle of the West by Ernle Bradford
    The Spartans by Paul Cartledge
    Persian Fire by Tom Holland
    The Battle of Salamis by Barry Straus
    Mike J Arledge
    Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
    Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
    Of all the lost adventurers my peers,--
    How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
    And such was fortunate, yet each of old
    Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.


    Robert Browning
    --Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikejarledge View Post
    Some of the definitive books are:

    Thermopylae: Battle of the West by Ernle Bradford
    The Spartans by Paul Cartledge
    Persian Fire by Tom Holland
    The Battle of Salamis by Barry Straus
    Thanks a lot, Mike. I'll get me a couple of those.
    SCHOLA GLADIATORIA

    Mrs. Whitaker peered at the sword. "It must be very sharp", she said, after a while.
    "It can slice a falling hair in twain. Nay, it could slice a sunbeam," said Galaad proudly.
    "Well, then maybe you should put it away," said Mrs. Whitaker.

    Neil Gaiman, Chivalry

  7. #7
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    You MUST read "Gates of Fire" by Stephen Pressfield. It is a novel, but is as true to the facts as can be with the truth bridged by excellent fiction. It is told from the point of view of a Spartan slave/warrior. I shall say no more. Excellent, excellent book.

  8. #8
    Umm,

    He was reading it, see his original post
    Mike J Arledge
    Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
    Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
    Of all the lost adventurers my peers,--
    How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
    And such was fortunate, yet each of old
    Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.


    Robert Browning
    --Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
    http://www.facebook.com/CreyrGlasLightworks

  9. #9
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    Hi Einar,

    Some primary sources are Herodotus, The Histories, And some of Plutarch's work--I think the book Nine Greek Lives has several biographies of men who fought at Thermopylae. Another good one is Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connelly (sp?).

    I'm not sure what to expect from the movie After so many historical movies (and their flaws), I've kind of given up the notion that Hollywood can "get it right"....

    Btw, I did read the graphic novel the other day at Borders, and I did pick out modern themes woven into the story, as well as some historical misconceptions.... But at any rate, I enjoyed the book, and it seemed a bit more accurate in some respects than the trailer I saw. But I still groaned within myself when I found out that the movie would be based on a "comic book".... Oh well.... Anywho, I will definitely be seeing the movie if for nothing else, like Jerry G. mentioned, the action and escape appeal

    Best,
    Nathan G.
    Nathan G.
    Mathrox431@yahoo.com
    -------------------------------
    Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    Who has made desolations in all the earth.
    He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
    He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
    He burns the chariot in the fire.
    Psalm 46:8-9
    -------------------------------
    "Your sword's blowing glue!" --Dalboz of Gurth

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikejarledge View Post
    Some of the definitive books are:

    Thermopylae: Battle of the West by Ernle Bradford
    The Spartans by Paul Cartledge
    Persian Fire by Tom Holland
    The Battle of Salamis by Barry Straus
    I was wondering this very thing the last few days.

    300 looks to be a good movie (I've heard similar things about it like Sin City in that certain scenes may have been directly shot and lifted from direct scenes in the GN) While I've never read Miller's GN, I was questioning what, if any, historical accuracy he used in it and thus in this movie. Thanks for the list!
    'The sword is the soul of the samurai and discipline sharpens the soul' -Usagi Yojimbo

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