Gates of Fire [Audiobook]

Gates of Fire [Audiobook]
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae [Audiobook] by Steven Pressfield, read by George Guidall
1999 | MP3@32 kbps + EPUB | ~ 14 hrs | 205.28MB

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

Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world's greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300 Spartan knights and their allies faced the massive forces of Xerxes, King of Persia. From the start, there was no question but that the Spartans would perish. In Gates of Fire, however, Steven Pressfield makes their courageous defense--and eventual extinction--unbearably suspenseful.

In the tradition of Mary Renault, this historical novel unfolds in flashback. Xeo, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, has been captured by the Persians, and Xerxes himself presses his young captive to reveal how his tiny cohort kept more than 100,000 Persians at bay for a week. Xeo, however, begins at the beginning, when his childhood home in northern Greece was overrun and he escaped to Sparta. There he is drafted into the elite Spartan guard and rigorously schooled in the art of war--an education brutal enough to destroy half the students, but (oddly enough) not without humor: "The more miserable the conditions, the more convulsing the jokes became, or at least that's how it seems," Xeo recalls. His companions in arms are Alexandros, a gentle boy who turns out to be the most courageous of all, and Rooster, an angry, half-Messenian youth.

Pressfield's descriptions of war are breathtaking in their immediacy. They are also meticulously assembled out of physical detail and crisp, uncluttered metaphor:

The forerank of the enemy collapsed immediately as the first shock hit it; the body-length shields seemed to implode rearward, their anchoring spikes rooted slinging from the earth like tent pins in a gale. The forerank archers were literally bowled off their feet, their wall-like shields caving in upon them like fortress redoubts under the assault of the ram.... The valor of the individual Medes was beyond question, but their light hacking blades were harmless as toys; against the massed wall of Spartan armor, they might as well have been defending themselves with reeds or fennel stalks.

Alas, even this human barrier was bound to collapse, as we knew all along it would. "War is work, not mystery," Xeo laments. But Pressfield's epic seems to make the opposite argument: courage on this scale is not merely inspiring but ultimately mysterious.

Fidel's Last Days: A Novel [Audiobook]

Fidel's Last Days: A Novel [Audiobook]
Fidel's Last Days: A Novel [Audiobook] by Roland Merullo, read by Patrick Egan
2008 | MP3@48 kbps | 8 hrs 21 mins | 172.08MB

Roland Merullo has consistently wowed critics with his brilliant storytelling and his refusal to be pigeonholed, hopscotching from the coming-of-age tale (In Revere, In Those Days) to the novel-as-fable (Golfing with God) to the road trip genre (Breakfast with Buddha). Now Merullo delivers a dazzling and finely nuanced political thriller about a clandestine plot to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Former CIA agent Carolina Perez has spent five years working deep undercover with a singular goal: to take down Castro and free Cuba from his troubled presence. Recruited by a powerful shadow organization known as the White Orchid, steely and sexy Carolina has passed test after test to prove herself ready for the ultimate assignment. Convinced of the rightness of her cause, she will do anything to complete her mission. That includes duping her uncle Roberto Anzar, a wealthy and influential player in Miami’s Cuban American community. But when suspicious details raise questions about her mysterious employer, not even Carolina is prepared for the elaborate web of deceit that surrounds her.

Across the Straits of Florida, Carlos Gutierrez has been lured into playing a pivotal role in the plot to overthrow el Comandante. The minister of health and a member of Castro’s inner circle, Carlos has grown disenchanted with a political system that pays lip service to the Revolution’s egalitarian ideals while ruling the country with ruthlessness, corruption, and lies. As his involvement deepens at great risk to himself and those he loves, the doctor who has dedicated his career to saving lives must decide how much blood he is willing to have on his own hands in the name of freedom.

For both Carlos and Carolina, the threat of betrayal looms large. Who can be trusted in a byzantine network of spies, double agents, and informants? Is the plot real or is it an elaborate ruse to expose the underground dissidents in Cuba? From the sizzling opulence of Miami to the paranoid dreamscape of Havana, Fidel’s Last Days is a dizzying ride by a novelist whose genre-crossing talents know no bounds.

47 Ronin [Audiobook]

47 Ronin [Audiobook]
47 Ronin [Audiobook] by John Allyn, read by David Shih
2013 | MP3 VBR V8 + EPUB | 7 hrs 34 mins | 158.92MB

For those looking for the real story behind the fictionalized movie account of the 47 Ronin story, this is the definitive, fascinating account of this unforgettable tale of a band of samurai who defied the Emperor to avenge the disgrace and death of their master, and faced certain death as a result. It led to one of the bloodiest episodes in Japanese history, and in the process, created a new set of heroes in Japan.

In 1701, young Lord Asano is goaded into attacking a corrupt official at the Japanese Court. Although the wound Asano inflicts is minimal, the Emperor's punishment is harsh: Lord Asano is ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. His lands are confiscated and his family is dishonored and exiled. His samurai retainers now become ronin, or masterless, and are dispersed.

These ronin are not trusted by their enemies and live under the watchful eyes of spies for months. They appear to adapt to their new circumstances by becoming tradesmen and teachers. But the ronin only seem to accept their fate. They are in fact making careful plans for revenge, biding their time until the moment to strike is right! Their deeds became Japan's most celebrated example of bravery, cunning, and loyalty in an age when samurai were heroes, and honor was worth dying for.

John Allyn's masterful retelling of 47 Ronin has long been considered the definitive version of these dramatic historical events.

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