This book is incredible, and probably best suited as an audiobook. As a first-person telling by Alexander himself (and with excellent narration by John Lee) you feel like you are listening to a real account of his life.
The magic, of course, is mostly in Pressfield's pen and imagination. He manages to detail some of the most epic battles in history, full of action and gore and triumph, but also delve into the moral and intellectual concerns which Alexander struggled with during his life, what Pressfield seems to posit as the qualities that truly made Alexander "great."
I was blown away by this book.
Who better than the author of Gates of Fire to do justice to the enigmatic character of Alexander? For those who are fascinated and horrified at the same time by detailed and accurate descriptions of ancient warfare, this is your book. Lacking all the formulaic elements that can destroy otherwise good historical fiction (love interests and/or comic relief from sidekicks that did not really exist, etc.) this is a bare bones descriptions of a great man at war with himself.
I feel that no review of this work made by me will do justice to this amazing work. While listening to The Virtues of War I laughed out loud, shed tears and felt the thrill of understanding of issues so deep and evocative that I just could not put it down. Any Western Civ. history buff or fan of pre-classical, classical, post-classical Mediterranean history should miss the opportunity to listen to Pressfield's prose. If you want to understand what motivated Alexander then I think this is as close to an intimate knowledge of the man as can be found. It is true that Pressfield takes considerable artistic license with historical fact regarding times and places in this tale but he explains his reasoning up front and the license is made understandable as well as forgivable.
If you liked Mary Renault's "Flame from Heaven", then you will love the Virtues of War.
This is a wonderful interpretation of the story of Alexander the Great. It is a historical novel, and it does take license, on many things. However John Lee does a wonderful narration and if you are truly an "Alexander' enthusiast, this book, along with "Alexander the Great" by Arrian, and "Alexander" by Harold Lamb these two books are narrated by Charlton Griffin, who like John Lee is a wonderful narrator. Your points will not be wasted on any of these books I promise.
I never would have imagined myself intrigued by battles and descriptions of warfare strategy, but I listened to this twice through, I loved it so. Not being a scholar of greek history, I can't know how many liberties were taken, and I don't care. By any account, Alexander was remarkable, and this account really brings him to life.
I've read most of Pressfield's work and this is one of the best. Having read several historical books about Alexander, this novel captures more of what the man was probably like... As best we can piece it together.
To accomplish what he did, and have the impact he did on history, he must have been remarkable. Pressfield paints both the legend and the man in exceptional detail.
Audio performance was excellent as well.
Excellently written and read. One of my favorites! seven more words so I can post.
It was an interesting and worthwhile fiction of Alexander's life
The weaving of fact with imagined and interpreted storytelling
I liked the story but the mispronouncing everything to an American style was incredibly grating! Like "comm-ahn-der" being pronounced as "kommand-er". Every time he (being an English not American speaker) got it wrong, it ruined my concentration and therefore the story
Avoid John Lee at all cost