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The Profession: A Thriller Hardcover – June 14, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Gripping. . . provocative. . . a thinking person's techno-thriller."-Wall Street Journal

"'The Profession' is a compelling mix of modern weaponry, modern communications, modern politics and the warrior's ancient ethos of honor and loyalty. It moves quickly and with deadly precision ... This is the modern world taken to its logical and frightening extreme." - Los Angeles Times

"Steven Pressfield, in "The Profession", has written a novel of the near future that is as good and in some cases better than anything Tom Clancy ever wrote in his day."
-Mark Whittington, Yahoo!

"Pressfield’s military thriller stands out from the crowd by speculating on what the next generation of warfare will be like and then dropping the reader right into the action. Clancy fans should give this a shot." -Booklist

"When I read a novel, I want to go someplace, with somebody who's been there.  In THE PROFESSION, Pressfield takes us into the heart of combat—and even deeper than heat of the action: he takes us into the soul of the warrior. This is all the more remarkable because the world he leads us into hasn't happened yet—though we see its possibilities, its unfolding reality, all around us. To give us this book, Pressfield went to the places were soldiers and ideologies are colliding, and he sifted the thoughts, motives and skills of the men at the cutting edge of those conflicts. But best of all, for me, is that he seems to have looked into my heart too."
–Randall Wallace, screenwriter of the Academy Award winner Braveheart

“From owner-operated Apache gunships to The New York Google Times, THE PROFESSION is chilling because it rhymes just enough with today to make us wonder whether this future will be, or only might be. Pressfield's trademark lessons in honor and loyalty are here, woven into the classical tradition of the warrior's way. It's a ripping read.”
Nathaniel Fick, author of the NYT bestseller ONE BULLET AWAY, and CEO of the Center for a New American Security

“Pressfield imagines a world in which private military forces have all the power…When the commander of the largest force around decides to take control of the United states, his top commando—Gilbert “Gent” Gentilhomme—opts to wipe out his commander. Pressfield dominates the military thriller genre, and his works are realistic enough that military colleges like West Point assign them." Library Journal

"Pressfield's impressive research shows throughout this novel.... a book that paints an all-too-plausible future in which American outsources its dirtiest jobs."
Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Killing Rommel and The War of Art.  His books are in the curriculum at West Point, Annapolis and the Naval War College, as well as being on the Commandant's Reading List for the Marine Corps. He has an international following for his online series, including 'It's the Tribes, Stupid,' and 'Writing Wednesdays.' He is a graduate of Duke University and lives in Los Angeles.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528733
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Profession is a book about a projected future of America and warfare, as told from the perspective of a soldier and his connection to his commanding officer.

In the near-future, military responses to terrorism are increasingly waged by the rules (or lack thereof) of the local combatants, rather than the Western rules of war. Corporations ascend in influence and power as nation-states decline.

Unrest in the Middle East and other oil producing regions continues as the world powers position themselves to ensure continued resources.

Against this backdrop, Steven Pressfield tells the story of Gen. Salter, a military commander who falls from grace and becomes as a mercenary commander. The perspective for the story is that of a soldier who has long served under Gen. Salter, and is so close as to be considered a son of the General.

Because the story is told from the soldier's perspective, the thoughts and motivations of Gen. Salter are often hidden from the reader, and the reader is a witness to the events, a method Pressfield employed in the terrific "Gates of Fire."

This book is an interesting projection on where the world could go in the next 25 years in a global economy competing for dwindling resources and with traditional American concepts of life contrasting with the very different perspective and motives of those in other countries, particularly tribal cultures and developing countries.

At it heart, this book is a story about the recognition that the traditional American values are challenged by the changing times, economy, and exposure to other cultures.

I will say that I found the ending a bit choppy, but as you can see, it was not such a detraction that I lowered the rating I gave the book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked up Steven Pressfield's latest novel, The Profession, on Amazon Vine this month. It sounded like a great premise... move 20 years into the future and look at war as a function of big business. Buy your mercenary forces and leave the fighting to the "professionals." The imagery and settings were excellent, but the storyline seemed to wander. I was having problems with the "so what" aspect of the book...

The overall plot involves a major conflict in the Middle East (where else?) which has the whole world trying to figure out exactly what and who is driving the conflict and bankrolling Force Insertion, which is the top mercenary business on the globe. A disgraced American general, James Sather, is running that show, and his overall goal isn't necessarily the same as the people and leaders who hired him. As the conflict escalates and unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sather's actions are designed to put him into a position of ultimate power, erasing nearly 300 years of checks and balances. The narrator of the story, Gent Gentilhomme, a soldier serving under the general, is the only person who is in a position to do something about it, and he's not entirely sure as to what the correct path should be.

From the perspective of the detail of the story, Pressfield is excellent. The writing is gritty and hard, and it matches the type of action I'd expect to see in a war story. It was as if I had been dropped into the middle of a conflict. The storyline didn't seem to have that same action and momentum, however. I was having a hard time trying to understand why things were happening and where the story was going. I didn't have the feeling that I had to keep turning pages to find out what would happen next.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Profession is simultaneously a science fiction novel (to the extent that it's set in the near future), a military novel (although most of the fighting is done by private armies), and a political thriller. The novel works best as a cautionary tale; as a representative of any (or all) of those genres, it's lacking.

In the 2032 imagined by Steven Pressfield, private mercenary forces, primarily serving foreign governments and multinational petroleum companies, are all over the Middle East. Gilbert "Gent" Gentilhomme, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, works for Force Insertion, the largest of the private armies. Told in the first person from Gent's perspective, the story begins with furious action as Gent leads a team of mercenaries on a rescue mission. Gent's next mission (in Tajikistan) is assigned by the CEO of Force Insertion, James Salter, a former general and current narcissist who has an agenda beyond that of Force Insertion's customer base.

Cautionary tales can make compelling fiction (1984 is an enduring example); The Profession misses that mark. About a third of the way in, the action halts so that Pressfield can explain the rise of private armies. A longish chapter in the middle recounts Gent's African exploits while he was still a Marine and explains Salter's military downfall -- a Heart of Darkness diversion that contributes little to the plot and adds to character development in only a superficial way.
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