"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

300 (graphic novel) by Frank Miller

Published in 1999 by Dark Horse

The Battle of Thermopylae is one of my favorite things to teach about in my world history class so this graphic novel was of particular interest to me.

Miller takes some liberties with history in this book, such as the homophobia of the Spartans and the ethnicity of the Persian emperor. But, he gets the heart of the story correctly. Thermopylae was one of those "turning points in history" battles - not for the events of the 3 days of the battle itself but rather for the time it gave the rest of Greece to prepare (and evacuate, in the case of Athens) and for the inspiration it provided (Think about Texas and the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" and you get the idea).

A more accurate portrayal of the battle in a piece of fiction would be found in Pressfield's Gates of Fire. However, as a piece of art and as a simple introduction to the Spartans and to the battle, this book is quite good.

Of course, this graphic novel has been made into the movie of the same name starring Gerard Butler. The movie is quite faithful to the graphic novel.

As a history teacher I am constantly referring to movies and books that got the story wrong in ancient history (Disney's Hercules, Russell Crowe's Gladiator, and the classic movie and novel Ben-Hur to name a few) in order to reinforce a more correct version of history. This book would be an excellent starting point to whet the appetite of a beginning history student..

I give this one 5 stars out of 5 despite the historical errors. That grade comes with the caveat that further reading is recommended.

This graphic novel can be found on Amazon.com here: 300 by Frank Miller.

Reviewed on November 14, 2006.

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