This book got a great review in the NY Times and readily deserved it. I was surprised to see so many negative reviews on Audible and as a result waited to download it. I am glad that I finally did. In fact I liked it so much that I listened to it twice (back to back) a feat that I only performed once before (David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas).
In defense of the previous reviewers this book presents some challenges to the reader: it has a lot of characters (many of whom adopt nicknames); it jumps around in sequence somewhat; and it lives up to its name (much is implied rather than fully stated).
In defense of the book it is beautifully written, gives lots to reflect on and is a fascinating story to boot. Although it is set in part in Vietnam during the war it is not about the war. It is a spiritual journey through eyes of some pretty interesting characters set against the backdrop of the war. It is hard to describe why it works but it does.
31 years ago at 21 I found myself alone and in the strange and wonderous country of India. I spent three weeks there and traveled 3rd class on trains from Dehli to Mumbai. It was simultaneously the greatest and most difficult place I had ever traveled traveled or have traveled since. This incredible novel took me back to the streets of India and helped me to understand many of the things I experienced. It is also a fantastic read: the story is rich and intriguing; the philosophical ponderings are grounded in the context of the story and are deeply satisfying; and the characters are simply alive. I am sure that I'll listen to this again.
This is hands down one of the most interesting and worthwhile books I have ever listened to. The story spans the period from the end of WWII through the 1991 Soviet coup d'?tat attempt known as the Putsch. Each major event is woven together through the eyes of the central characters. It was hard to stop listening to.
Stephen Pressfield is brilliant. I was brought to tears with his descriptions of Spartan life in the Gates of Fire. It was a book that I truely rued finishing. The Virtues of War is equally brilliant. This is history that you can touch. I found myself wandering the web looking for maps of Alexander's conquests. Pressfield helps you to understand what the unprecidented feats of Alexander the Great felt like from within his shoes. I recommend it without hesitation. On finishing it I immediately replayed it from start to finish.
This is a wonderful story of courage and character told from the perspective of a poor black girl in the midst of segregation. I expected to be bored but found myself riveted. The characters are fantastic and the narration is flawless. It is a timeless story that captures the reader from the start.
I am a diver myself and expected to be underwhelmed by this story. I wasn't, I was riveted. Although it starts out with a sensationalist stint on the dangers of wreck diving it soon finds its pace as a story of adventure and self discovery. The detail, research and historical context make this a unique and delightful read. The narration is excellent. I recommend it highly.
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