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In 1991, in the summer before attending The Army Command and General Staff College, we were required to read The Killer Angels. The Virtues of War should be the required readings of this current generation.

Michael R Schaub MD, Former Surgeon 75th Ranger Regiment
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on February 26, 2016
Steven Pressfield is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors and this is by far my favorite book that he's written thusfar. The book is written as a first person narrative with Alexander speaking to one of his scribes/aides in his tent about his life and campaigns. I felt like I was in that tent with the both of them while I was reading this and while it wasn't entirely historically accurate (as the author admits before the book starts and lays out how) I felt like I walked away from it knowing Alexander -as a person- more than I knew him before I had read it. I enjoyed this novel enough that I picked it up on audible as well; where it was narrated by the always reliable John Lee, who did a wonderful job as Alexander. I'd like to see the author tackle Caeser in this format as well, or someone like Benedict Arnold.

Do yourself a favor and get this one. Even if you don't like history. You might find yourself developing an appreciation for it.
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on February 24, 2015
Awesome book. "Virtues" is the first Steven Pressfield novel I've read after reading "The War of Art" but I immediately ordered "Gates of Fire" and imagine myself working my way through the entirety of his work over the next couple of months.

'Virtues" serves as an engaging introduction to the life of Alexander the Great and is engaging and powerful as a work of historical fiction. But where "Virtues" truly excels is in capturing the under arching concepts and motivations that shaped Alexander's worldview and drove him to the ends of the earth. Both the nobleness and ruthlessness of Alexander's warrior philosophy is in many ways alien to our current culture and way of thinking, but is an extremely valuable many of thinking to be exposed to.

The lofty, elevated plane of many ancient Greek ideals have long fascinated me (I am not alone in this) and "Virtues" succeeds in capturing much of their essence through the eyes of the greatest Greek conqueror of all, and perhaps the greatest front line soldier-king the world has ever seen.

"Virtues' also contains many gems about leadership, tactics, and politics which are highly transferable to our current age. By the time I was done the top of my copy had become a pincushion of post-it notes, each marking a passage revealing something valuable about strategy, leadership, or the nature of human emotions.

Read this book. (And then keep going)
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on November 13, 2017
This is a fiction book. It's historically imagined by the author. Please understand that. It's based on the real events, it's based on historically preserved documents however there is some "filling in the gap" ...

This book was a fun journey through the life of Alexander and it was enjoyable to feel as is I were there during his battles, in his toughest moments of tactical military decision making, as well as the more lengthy and calculated empire building ones too. I'm left wondering what the cover art is so I can get a copy of the painting to add to my collection.
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on February 1, 2005
Our species is fortunate that every so often a genius is born. The rest of us make progress one step at a time, but the geniuses allow us to make leaps that keep us from getting too bogged down in dogma. Beethoven was such a genius, as was Fisher and Einstein and Newton and Shakespeare and da Vinci-and Alexander. In each of their own ways, these geniuses were looking for order in chaos. It so happens that Alexander's genius was for war; he could visualize war in his mind the way Beethoven could visualize musical notes, and it is natural that he would use his genius to bring order to what he saw as chaos in the world. One can debate whether Alexander was a good guy or not, but this debate is irrelevant: Alexander lived; Alexander conquered; Alexander died-what is important is to learn from him.

Steven Pressfield comes with another novel of ancient warfare, but this time it's different: he literally steps into the mind of Alexander, and he lets Alexander tell his own story. I found myself in awe of Pressfield's skill; I became immersed and could believe that I was actually reading Alexander's words. I could almost "see" what Alexander saw at Guagamela; I felt that I knew how his mind worked. I could follow his descent into madness; I could trace his rationalizations, the ways in which he justified his actions to himself; I could feel his hurt and despair.

The Virtues of War is not a linear novel; rather, it is a treatise upon warfare told with astounding authenticity. Throughout are the thoughts, feelings, fears and doubts of Alexander wound together with the Virtues to create a story. Those of us interested in history-but not brilliant in that regard-will find this book an excellent way to connect with that period.
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This is a novel of leadership and war, told from the perspective of Alexander the Great, possibly the greatest commander of all time. In the novel the author causes Alexander to give us his perspective, motivations, thoughts, and doubts about the effort of the Macedonians to conquer all of the known world, including the Greeks' deadly enemy, the Persian Empire. Alexander's insights are quite interesting, and ring true, as he "confides" to the reader the difficulties in uniting and leading to victory a disparate army of tough, rude tribesmen some of whom hate one another almost as much as the enemy.

I am a (very) amateur historian, and have never understood what happened during the time of Alexander the Great. This novel does a good job of acquainting the reader with some of the elements that went into Alexander's success. First and foremost, Alexander held nothing back. To motivate his army, he gave away essentially all of his vast royal properties and worldly goods to his soldiers, that they might leave to fight without fear of returning to poverty or want. Even so, he led his men to the point of exhaustion and mutiny. Again, he held nothing back, and apparently no effort went unexpended.

Particularly interesting was the insights regarding the Greek Phalanx, and how Alexander departed from the ritualized convention that had come to dominate Greek tactics. The Greeks had become rigid and formalized in their tactics, and by departing from this structure, Alexander subdued the other Greek city-states. A cautionary lesson to all strategists of all times.

The author's prose is good, and this book holds the reader's interest throughout, while imparting interesting historical insights and information. This is a novel that illustrates that actual history is often the source of the most engaging storylines.
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on August 13, 2014
For such an important figure there isn't a lot know about Alexander. Pressfield's Gates of Fire is an excellent book about Thermopylae. This book doesn't rise to that level.

It is an interesting account of Alexander's campaign but. A lot of space is spent detailing how his forces were deployed. That is likely from historical records but it is s bit dull to read pages of lists.

The book isn't bad but it is not as good as the Gates of Fire.
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on November 13, 2015
Pressfield somehow managed to channel Alexander directly to write this. I've never read another book that makes you literally feel like you're in a different time, with all the cultural markers and gestalt of a totally different historical period. And it's not forced or obvious or cliched, it's just inherent to the writing and the way the characters talk and think. Reading it, you're completely immersed in an ancient world.
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on March 20, 2017
This is an account of Alexander's life in battle told by Alexander to a confidant.
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on September 8, 2017
I can't speak to the historical accuracy of the book, but it is amazingly written and an incredibly interesting story.
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