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The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great Paperback – September 27, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In six short years since the publication of his classic Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield has set a new standard for historical fiction and sits firmly entrenched at the top of a list of talented writers in that genre. The master's attention to detail through diligent research is without equal. As importantly to his readers, Mr. Pressfield weaves a tale that keeps us hooked on his work from first to last page. His details do not detract or bog down the telling of the tale but serve it. Like it's predecessors, The Virtues of War left me satiated if not emotionally drained when I read its final words:
"The sarissa's song is a sad song
He pipes it soft and low.
I would ply a gentler trade, says he,
But war is all I know.
The wind rose in that moment, lifting the corner of Alexander's cloak. I saw his heel tap Corona's flank. He reined-about and started for the camp, surrounded by his officers."
All of the Pressfield Greek Histories as I've come to call them are narrated. In his previous work, Last of the Amazons, Mr. Pressfield took a big chance and told much of the story through the words of a woman, no small task for a man who did spend time in the U.S. Marine Corps.Read more ›
It would be wrong, though, and Pressfield conveys this well, to conclude that Alexander lacked human feelings or emotion. Within his realm of war Alexander comes across as a believable human being, perhaps much like Patton or Guderian had they been absolute rulers of their countries instead of merely talented generals. Alexander, in the speech just quoted, is not justifying butchery, but explaining to a skeptical father how he can fraternize with members of the enemy's elite fighting units, even exchange gifts with them, and then slaughter them quickly and efficiently the next day.
Indeed, creating strong emotional bonds was and is the foundation of a unit's fighting power. So Alexander can trade barracks banter with sergeants one minute and bawl tears with his senior commanders the next. He sleeps on a rude campaign cot and shares all the privations of the march. At one point near the end of their 22,000 mile campaign, he bares his chest and asks if any of his now reluctant compatriots can show more battle scars than he.Read more ›
So Pressfield hasn't repeated that here. He starts the novel strongly and moves straight ahead with an even pace. I think his weaknesses are in terms of character complexity and development. Alexander is a confusing figure; this novel doesn't do anything to change that, although Pressfield seems to want to. Some of his speeches fell strangely flat to me, more like television bravura than the true words of the world's greatest general. And at times he does say and do things that seem to smack of twentieth century, romanticized ideology. Pressfield is no master of form. He chooses to tell the whole story in first person, creating the rather artificial proposal that we're actually hearing Alexander tell his story to a young man who's writing it all down. This doesn't really hold up to scrutiny - nobody tells a story like this, with exact dialogue, with careful authorial details and complete chronological order - but perhaps the point is that we're not supposed to scrutinize.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Can't say enough about Steven Pressfield and his ability to combine historical facts with a fictional character. Read morePublished 7 days ago by JUSTIN BURNEY
Literally one of the best books I've ever read! Great read on Leadership.Published 7 days ago by Trent W.
''The virtues of War'' by Steven Pressfield is the interesting description of the Alexander's conquests from his own perspective. Read morePublished 2 months ago by mjare
I am an Alexander the Great admirer, and love reading about his adventures. This is a wonderful, way to read about Alexander and where he went, who he fought, and even what he... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rabid Reader
This book won me over with its "virtues of war" theme. In "Alexander" it's not that war itself is good and righteous, but how one treats both foe and friend after... Read morePublished 4 months ago by W. Powell
Fictional history. Highly recommended if you would like to know about Alexander the Great without reading historical non fictional accounts which may be dry at times.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Alexander yearns for a good fight. This was a good book but I enjoyed Tides of War and Gates of Fire more. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gary Probst
Steven Pressfield is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors and this is by far my favorite book that he's written thusfar. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Troy