Humanities › History & Culture Top Battle of Thermopylae (and Artemisum) Books The Battle Exciting Enough to Inspire Books and Films Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated November 30, 2017 Persians under Xerxes had both a land and a sea force with which they attempted to defeat those Greeks who wouldn't willingly accept Persian domination, as many Greek city-states had already done. So the Battle of Thermopylae included a land and sea component. The 300 Spartans led by the Spartan King Leonidas met the Persians by Thermopylae, while the naval forces, which were under the Athenian Themistocles, met them by sea, most importantly at Artemisium. I haven't read Pressfield's Gates of Fire. Although it's fiction, a reader said he thought it should appear here. I disagree but thought I'd pass it along, anyway. 01 of 03 Thermopylae: The Battle for the West, by Ernle Bradford The British title for this book, The Year of Thermopylae (London, 1980), is much more descriptive since the book covers events leading up to and including Thermopylae. A military historian, Bradford makes sense of the complicated maneuvers and does a very thorough background on all components of the battle, from the three rows of trireme rowers to an analysis of the (less than) treachery of the traitor Ephialtes to an explanation of the only apparent megalomania of Xerxes. 02 of 03 The Greco-Persian Wars, by Peter Green Peter Green does a masterful job of detailing the Persian Wars, especially for those who have already read Herodotus carefully. The maps are awful (see Bradford, instead) unless you are interested in seeing what's there today. Green explains that it was the naval battle at Artemisium, where the Greeks may disputably be considered the victor, that Pindar described as "the shining cornerstone of freedom" because Xerxes had lost too many of his ships to divide them, send half to Sparta, and so conquer the Greeks. 03 of 03 The Spartans, by Paul Cartledge The Spartans Cartledge's came out November 2006. I haven't yet read it.