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The Afghan Campaign: A novel [Kindle Edition]

Steven Pressfield
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

BONUS: This eBook edition contains an excerpt from THE PROFESSION: A Thriller by Steven Pressfield. On sale June 2011.

2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . .

The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c.
In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven Pressfield brings to life the confrontation between an invading Western army and fierce Eastern warriors determined at all costs to defend their homeland. Narrated by an infantryman in Alexander’s army, The Afghan Campaign explores the challenges, both military and moral, that Alexander and his soldiers face as they embark on a new type of war and are forced to adapt to the methods of a ruthless foe that employs terror and insurgent tactics. An edge-of-your-seat adventure, The Afghan Campaign once again demonstrates Pressfield’s profound understanding of the hopes and desperation of men in battle and of the historical realities that continue to influence our world.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Pressfield has done it again. The Afghan Campaign is yet another gripping historical novel . . . Although set in ancient times, Pressfield’s narration of the Macedonians’ efforts reveals remarkable parallels to later efforts by the Romans, British, Soviets, and Americans . . . an intense, fun, and thought-provoking read. It belongs on your shelf.”
T. X. Hammes, Marine Corps Gazette
Pressfield's scholarly skills are part and parcel of his impressive talent for re-creating the visceral, scalp-carving, lance-in-back horror of ancient battle.”
—USA Today

“Fasinating . . . As Patrick O'Brien's prose seemed to encapsulate the feel of the Napoleonic-era warship, Pressfield's crisp and eloquent style reconstitutes the ancient battlefield.”

About the Author

Steven Pressfield is the author of the classic historical bestsellers Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons and Alexander: The Virtues of War. He lives in California.

Product Details

  • File Size: 332 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0767922387
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (July 18, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000JMKNME
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,115 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Provocative and Deeply Moving July 28, 2006
Format:Hardcover
In 1981's "Excalibur," director John Boorman warns us through Merlin: "For it is the doom of men that they forget."

Not so Steven Pressfield, who repeatedly holds up the past as a mirror to our present--and never more devastatingly than in his latest and most brilliant novel, "The Afghan Campaign."

Matthias, a young Greek seeking glory and opportunity, signs up with the army of Alexander the Great. But the Persian Empire has fallen, and the days of conventional, set-piece battles where everyone can instantly tell friend from foe are over.

Alexander next plans to conquer India, but first he must pacify its gateway--Afghanistan. It is here, for the first time, that the Macedonians meet an enemy unlike any other. "Here the foe does not meet us in pitched battle," warns Alexander. "Even when we defeat him, he will no accept our dominion. He comes back again and again. He hates us with a passion whose depth is exceeded only by his patience and his capacity for suffering."

Matthias learns this early. In his first raid on an Afghan village, he's ordered to execute a helpless prisoner. When he refuses, he's brutalized until he strikes out with his sword--and then botches the job. But, soon, exposed to an unending series of atrocities--committed by himself and his comrades, as well as the enemy--he finds himself transformed.

It is not a transformation he expected--or relishes. He agonizes over the gap between the ideals he meant to embrace when he became a soldier--and the brutalities that have drained him of everything but a grim determination to survive at any cost.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Though Pressfield draws many intriguing and insightful connections from Alexander's Afghan war to conflicts in the region at present, the parallels are not what makes the book the masterpiece it is. Indeed, it is merely a patch in the great mosaic he has created for the reader; one must not overlook the other outstanding qualities inherent in the characters and the myriad emotions and trials they go through. For the book is about many things. It is that ageless story of an innocent transformed into a heartless instrument of war, of forbidden love, and of friendship bolstered by blood. Romance, war, horror, and tragedy. The reader will find all of these in "The Afghan Campaign."

The book follows a young Macedonian youth named Matthias, who enlists as a mercenary in Alexander's army as it leaves the glories and supreme wealth of Persia. Matthias and his lifelong friend, Lucas, are eager to join up with relatives already in service and to partake in the triumphs of conquest. Yet, in Afghanistan, the foe will not fight a conventional battle. Using guerilla tactics and unspeakable acts of torture, the various tribes of the region, under the command of Spitamenes (who manages to outwit even Alexander), lure the undefeated army into a hellish conflict. Falling in with a group of hardened veterans (each one a memorable and intriguing character), Matthias and Lucas struggle to stay alive, safeguard their friends, and salvage what little bit of humanity they can out of a war where massacre and apathy are the norm.

The best attribute of the book is the sense of realism. Pressfield tosses you a half-pike and sends you into the unforgiving mountains of tribal Afghanistan.
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50 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like being there for the making of history July 20, 2006
By Joe Tye
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Steven Pressfield transports readers to another time and place like no author I've read since James Clavell's Shogun. Having read each of his previous novels, I've been anxiously waiting for "The Afghan Campaign." It's exceeded my every expectation. He puts flesh and bone on the historical skeleton of Alexander's campaigns, then fills the veins with blood. If you want to understand why Afghanistan became a graveyard for the Soviet army, or gain a whole new level of sympathy and respect for American troops serving there now, read this book. And if you're a writer or a would-be writer, watch how this master of the craft makes a foreign landscape become so real that you can almost remember having been there yourself.

One warning: if you do pick up "The Afghan Campaign,: you might also want to get some Visine, because once you start reading, it's probably going to be the middle of the night before you finally put it down.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Steven Pressfield is on the short list of great historical fiction authors, and maybe just plain authors. His novels of ancient Greece ("Gates of Fire," "Tides of War," "Last of the Amazons," and "The Virtues of War") reimagine an ancient Greece filled with poetry, nobility, sorrow, valor, and, perhaps greatest of all, crystallizing insight into the human condition.

"The Afghan Campaign" is an excellent addition to Pressfield's stellar bibliography. Timely, impeccably researched, and riveting, this is one of those "unputdownable" books.

This is Pressfield's second novel about the campaigns of Alexander the Great, following "The Virtues of War." But, unlike "Virtues, where Pressfield put himself inside the head of Alexander himself, "Afghan Campaign" is narrated by Matthias, lowly ranker in the Macedonian army. This is a plus, since Pressfield's protagonist is a wholly fictional character and we don't have to worry about whether he's "getting Alexander right" on every page.

Matthias is also a wonderful character in his own right, and speaks with a straightforward soldier's jargon that is surprisingly charming. Those charms are among the few in the book, however, as the novel explores the clash of cultures between Greece (and, by implication, Western civilization) and the various tribes and clans of Afghanistan. The "Mack" soldiers are repeatedly shocked, horrified, and traumatized by the brutality of the people they have come to "civilize." Several times I had to put down the book for a few minutes to absorb the shock of what I had just read . . . testament to Pressfield's magnificent prose.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
He has written better books
Published 17 days ago by Paul Mitchell
4.0 out of 5 stars this is very good, though
5 stars is reserved for William Faulkner...this is very good, though.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia Bondor
5.0 out of 5 stars Genre Writing at its Best
Steven Pressfield has carved himself a place as a genre writer of historical fiction set in the ancient world. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marco Antonio Abarca
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for the next book
Great book. It's very engaging and characters are brought to life. It's been a few years since I read this novel and thinking of reading again. Read more
Published 2 months ago by customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, good characters
I liked this book better than I thought it would. The characters and story were interesting and seemed very realistic.
Published 4 months ago by Bonnie Dickson
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but ultimately unsatisfying
This was the second Pressfield novel I've read, after Gates of Fire, and I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ash Ryan
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots Of Potential, Flat In Execution
An inventive telling of Alexander's campaign, through the eyes of a young soldier, but the narrative seemed forced and often unrealistic. Read more
Published 5 months ago by M Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars AP World History Review
My impression of the Afghan campaign is that this is the perfect mix between fiction and nonfiction. This book is a well-planned informative piece of literature. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Tonya Armstrong-Mathis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Not five star stuff but well worth reading.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars not my favorite Pressfield book
I read "Gates of Fire", which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I picked this book as my next Steven Pressfield novel. Read more
Published 7 months ago by KBell
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More About the Author

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, The Profession, The Lion's Gate, The War of Art, Turning Pro, The Authentic Swing, Do the Work and The Warrior Ethos.

His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was adapted for screen. A film of the same title was released in 2000, directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

His father was in the Navy, and he was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943. Since graduating from Duke University in 1965, he has been a U.S. Marine, an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital and screenwriter.

His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in The War of Art, Turning Pro and The Authentic Swing.

There's a recurring character in his books, named Telamon, a mercenary of ancient days. Telamon doesn't say much. He rarely gets hurt or wounded. And he never seems to age. His view of the profession of arms is a lot like Pressfield's conception of art and the artist:

"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."

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