Persian Fire

  • by Tom Holland
  • Narrated by Andrew Sachs
  • 6 hrs and 23 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 480 BC, Xerxes, the King of Persia, led an invasion of mainland Greece. Its success should have been a formality. For 70 years, victory, rapid, spectacular victory, had seemed the birthright of the Persian Empire. In the space of a single generation, they had swept across the Near East, shattering ancient kingdoms, storming famous cities, putting together an empire which stretched from India to the shores of the Aegean. As a result of those conquests, Xerxes ruled as the most powerful man on the planet. Yet somehow, astonishingly, against the largest expeditionary force ever assembled, the Greeks of the mainland managed to hold out. The Persians were turned back. Greece remained free. Had the Greeks been defeated at Salamis, not only would the West have lost its first struggle for independence and survival, but it is unlikely that there would ever have been such an entity as the West at all.Tom Holland's brilliant new book describes the very first "clash of Empires" between East and West. Once again he has found extraordinary parallels between the ancient world and our own. There is no competing popular book describing these events.

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What the Critics Say

"Incendiary stuff. Sparkling insight and no less sparkling writing." (Independent)
"Excellent." (Sunday Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Why oh why is this abridged?

What would have made Persian Fire better?

I will definitely pay more attention next time, I thought it was unabridged. I am afraid there are too many huge gaps in the narrative and important details lost for me to be happy with this as I wanted a good introduction to this part of history. I have now gone back to the book itself. A great shame as Andrew Sachs is a perfect narrator.


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- Mary K McGilloway

About the Greeks basically

What would have made Persian Fire better?

Some new insights. There isnt much more to go on it would seem beyond Herodotus it seems but at the very least some interesting theories would have been nice.


What was most disappointing about Tom Holland’s story?

I didn't think I knew anything about the Persians but there was nothing new to me here. Its basically a retelling of the same old stories. The story ends abruptly after the second invasion.


What didn’t you like about Andrew Sachs’s performance?

A lot of irritating mispronunciations


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, I thought I'd learn something new about the Persians. I didn't.


Any additional comments?

This is not a book about the Persians, it dwells to a much greater extent on the Greeks and on stories any one having shown an interest in the period is probably well aware of. Grab the Dan Carlin free podcast on the subject it is much more interesting, informative and thought provoking.

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- Raal Harris

Book Details

  • Release Date: 15-03-2006
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK