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Persian Fire

Runciman Award (for the Anglo Hellenic Language), 2006

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349117171

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 3rd August 2006

Genre: Humanities / History

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Tom Holland’s bestselling account of the world’s very first clash of civilisations between the Persians and the Greeks in 480BC

‘Magisterial… told with great authority and a novelistic colour and verve’
Books of the Year, Independent

‘Holland has a rare eye for detail, drama and the telling anecdote’
Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph

‘An unequivocal argument for the relevance of ancient history’

‘Holland brings this tumultuous, epoch-making period dazzlingly to life’
William Napier, Independent on Sunday

In the fifth century BC, a global superpower was determined to bring truth and order to what it regarded as two terrorist states. The superpower was Persia, incomparably rich in ambition, gold and men. The terrorist states were Athens and Sparta, eccentric cities in a poor and mountainous backwater: Greece. The story of how their citizens took on the most powerful man on the planet is as heart-stopping as any episode in history.


Holland doesn't impose a modern sensibility on the ancient civilizations he describes, and he delves into the background histories of both sides with equally fascinating detail... the story of the Persian empire should be fresh and surprising to many readers, while Holland's graceful, modern voice will captivate those intimidated by Herodotus
Publishers Weekly
A welcome popularization of ancient history, with a nicely vengeful cliffhanger of an ending that begs for a sequel
Ambitious... a sweeping popular account that seems destined to become a classic
Seattle Times
Excellent... Holland is a cool-headed historian who writes no less authoritatively and engagingly on classical Greece than he did on ancient Rome
Mary Beard, Sunday Times
Confident, fluent and accessible, and with salutary lessons for our own times, this is history at its best
The Times
Thrilling... a fascinating insight into Europe's development
A page-turning account of a conflict that genuinely was one of the pivots on which world history has turned... His descriptions of the great confrontations of the war provide miniature masterclasses in the art of exciting historical writing... This is a terrific book, combining impeccable scholarship with the narrative drive of a fine novel
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Gripping and authoritative ... An awe-inspiring story of the struggle for freedom
In the sweep and vividness of his prose Tom Holland does the subject proud, and he is also good at trying to look at the conflict as much through Persian eyes as Greek, and at getting inside the psyche of Darius and Xerxes
Literary Review
Magisterial... told with great authority and a novelistic colour and verve
Independent on Sunday
It is a testament to Holland's superlative powers as a narrative historian that he brings this tumultuous, epoch-making period dazzlingly to life
William Napier, Independent on Sunday
This book is an unequivocal argument for the relevance of ancient history... Holland never strains for modern references; they are implicit in the stories he tells with such scholarship and flair
Holland has a rare eye for the detail, drama and the telling anecdote... A vibrant, bloodthirsty popular history, told with a rich sense of irony and irresistible narrative timing
Daily Telegraph