Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
That 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.