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Gates of Fire
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, here I am. Finally. Lately, it's just hard as hell to find time to read anything. But, I knew that Brinn and Fist couldn't be wrong and I promised a long time ago that I would read this book. Well, I cheated. A little. I listented to an abridged audio version and I just finished it a couple of days ago. It was read by Derek Jacobi, who is probably my favorite Shakespearean actor and he has an incredible voice. It was less than 7 hours in length which should indicate just how severely abridged it was. At the end, as the last syllables of that beautiful epitaph rolled out of the speakers in my truck:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by
That here obedient to their laws we lie.


I felt as if someone had ripped my guts out.

I loved Leonidas' speeches and I loved the subtle humor. I laughed out loud when Polynikes apologized to Alexandros for breaking his nose, Very Happy and said "hell yes!" when Leonidas said of the weapons, "Come and get them."

Now I gotta find time to read the damn book, just to see what I missed.

Thanks Brinn and Fist. Sorry it took me so long. You were right.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Told ya'!
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War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. John Stuart Mill
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy I feel much better now!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally got a nice hardcover copy of this book for Fathers Day! I am so excited to finally get to experience this that I almost can't sit still long enough to read it.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow...Great gift. Reading it will change you. It is that good of a book. Give us periodic updates, let us know how the reading goes!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have patience through the beginning. Don't expect to be blown away until the end.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malik23 wrote:
Have patience through the beginning. Don't expect to be blown away until the end.


To be honest I thought the most interesting and illuminating parts were before the battle--training, Spartan culture and philosophy; all of that requisite to give the battle all the more emotion and depth.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just started it but I must say I really like the writing & story telling style right off the bat. I know what I will be doing during lunch today...
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SWEET!!!!! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice!!!!!!!!
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JAWESOME!
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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I will now take my turn in keeping this thread going, LOL.

I have read the book three times since my last post. I have given a copy to a martial arts colleague who read it twice & loved it as well. As a follow-up I read a rather well done historical account of Sparta by one of the historians upon whom Pressfield drew. I forget his name but can go find it if anyone wishes to know.

Anyway, I would like to post some of my favorite passages (in spoiler tags for safety sake). If they spark discussion so be it. I am just doing it out of love. Fantasic book that I will be rereading just as frequently as TCTC.
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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:54 pm    Post subject: Leonidas on the Ticket and the Mindset for Battle Reply with quote

Spoiler:
“When a man seats before his eyes the bronze face of his helmet and steps off from the line of departure, he divides himself, as he divides his ‘ticket,’ in two parts. One part he leaves behind. That part which takes delight in his children, which lifts his voice in the chorus, which clasps his wife to him in the sweet darkness of their bed.

“That half of him, the best part, a man sets aside and leaves behind. He banishes from his heart all feelings of tenderness and mercy, all compassion and kindness, all thought or concept of the enemy as a man, a human being like himself. He marches into battle bearing only the second portion of himself, the baser measure, that half which knows slaughter and butchery and turns the blind eye to quarter. He could not fight at all is he did not do this.”

The men listened, silent and solemn. Leonidas at that time was fifty-five years old. He had fought in more than two score battles, since he was twenty; wounds as ancient as thirty years stood forth, lurid upon his shoulders and calves, on his neck and across his steel-colored beard.

“Then this man returns, alive, out of the slaughter. He hears his name called and comes forward to take his ticket. He reclaims that part of himself which he had earlier set aside.

“This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

“What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy’s spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?

“When a man joins the two pieces of his ticket and sees them weld in union together, he feels that part of him, the part that knows love and mercy and compassion, come flooding back over him. This is what unstrings his knees.

“What else can a man feel at that moment than the most grave and profound thanksgiving to the gods who, for reasons unknowable, have spared his life this day? Tomorrow their whim may alter. Next week, next year. But this day the sun still shines upon him, he feels its warmth upon his shoulders, he beholds about him the faces of his comrades whom he loves and he rejoices in their deliverance and his own.”

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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject: Leonidas on the Strength to Face Death Reply with quote

Spoiler:
“Death stands close upon us now,” the king spoke. “Can you feel him, brothers? I do. I am human and I fear him. My eyes cast about for a sight to fortify the heart for that moment when I come to look him in the face.”

Leonidas began softly, his voice carrying in the dawn stillness, heard with ease by all.

“Shall I tell you where I find this strength, friends? In the eyes of our sons in scarlet before us, yes. And in the countenances of their comrades who will follow in battles to come. But more than that, my heart finds courage from these, our women, who watch in tearless silence as we go.”

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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing that sat poorly about the book for me was the dialogue. It felt a bit stilted to me.

That said, I'll probably be rereading it soon. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AjK, wow ... that's what it's all about. Some of the best writing, period.

Note to the curious: those aren't really spoilers to the plot. [Spoiler Alert!] It's a book about war. Cool Read away and be amazed.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhhhhhh....I love this book. Glad you appreciated it as well AjK!
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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, warms my heart! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:14 pm    Post subject: Xeos on the Nature of Kingship Reply with quote

Good point regarding the spoiler tags, Zarathustra. I just wanted to be considerate to the people who wish to find out about the book without actually reading any of it. But given the level of appreciation that several contributors to this thread clearly have for the contents, I couldn't help but share my fav snippets.

I hear hear you regarding the dialog, AV. My preference was for the descriptions and the monologues/speeches more than the conversations. Also, I agree with Lord Foul regarding the foundation provided by the earlier portion of the book. I was blown away right from the start.

Anyway, I have a real affinity for the following quote, especially having worked in corporate America where all too often a position of leadership is achieved "by appointment" rather than authentically earned and practiced. And don't get me started on politicians...

Spoiler:
Of what does the nature of kingship consist? What are its qualities in itself; what the qualities it inspires in those who attend it? These, if one may presume to divine the meditations of His Majesty’s heart, are the questions which most preoccupy his own reason and reflection.

Does His Majesty recall that moment, upon the slope beyond the Narrows, after Leonidas had fallen, struck through with half a dozen lances, blinded beneath his helmet staved in from the blow of a battle-axe, his left arm useless with its splintered shield lashed to his shoulder, when he fell at last under the crush of the enemy? Can His Majesty recall that surge within the melee of slaughter when a corps of Spartans hurled themselves into the teeth of the vaunting foe and flung them back, to retrieve the corpse of their king? I refer to neither the first time nor the second or third, but the fourth, when there stood fewer than a hundred of them, Peers and Knights and freedmen, dueling an enemy massed in their thousands.

I will tell His Majesty what a king is. A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men’s loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them. He serves them, not they him.

Love that last paragraph!
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dang, trying to go on book buying hiatus, you bastards! I guess I could use the library...
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