As a student of Greco-Roman history reference to Mithradates has popped up frequently from a variety of sources. That he was a "bogey man" to the Romans was hauntingly familiar to the USA's preoccupation with Osama Bin Laden. For the same reasons I am sure. Facts, historic events mixed with politics and license. Through war and mayhem on a grand scale civilizations and indeed individuals were in turn enriched and impoverished, or in other words, "made history". One must keep in mind that during these adventures millions of men, women and children were killed, injured and enslaved, and that the boundaries of the known world were increased and defined.
Not since reading "Funeral games" regarding the aftermath of the death of Alexander had I been so uniquely informed of the post Alexandrian politics of the near east. Mithradates life and times were fascinating. The author Adrienne Mayor continually alludes to the myth of Mithradates . The myth goes as follows. An individual of royal (elite) birth, born under an under an eastern star and destined by the gods to be the savior of the east(the light) from the tyranny of Rome (the dark). An old, old story. She did an excellent job of utilizing the historic biographic resources available. One criticism however was her annoying use of repetition of events and perceptions, as if the more times something was repeated the more significant to the total narrative it was meant to be. In fact, Mithradates was a tyrant, bent on conquering all of his Pontic neighbors and subjugating them to his will through any means possible. Mayor oft repeats stories of the fabulous wealth of Mithradates and suggests that his wealth came from the richness of his lands and his wise judgments in their utilization, all the while ignoring the fact that he lived off of the toil of the very people he proposed to be the savior of. Also, in his wars of acquisition and wars of defense against Rome perhaps more than a million of his people died.
As to the verity of the history of the wars, Adrienne Mayor describes the Roman legions as near perfect killing machines. An army that sliced through the myrid polyglot armies of the potentates of the near east like a knife through butter, regardless of the size of their enemy. This smacks of Roman revisionist history, a la Julius Caesar's gallic wars. But then of course, most of Mayors sources for this material were Romans or under Roman influence.
Reader Paul Hecht did a credible job with the material he had to work with. He did not, by tone or inflection, try to lead the listener toward a conclusion or point of view. He kept some of the "acting" out of the narrative that is the downfall of so many other readers. Well done Paul.
All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history and is a rousing adventure story as well.
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.
Great narration and true to Dumas. Made the historic perceptive of France in the early 1800's live for me better than when I read it. Thanks Audible
What a shame! Clearly this was a contrived and revisionist rip of "The Stand". Ok, both dwell in the post apocalyptic world. "In The Stand" the end of the world was caused by disease, in "Swan Song" nuclear war. In both the main characters where from all around the states. The characters were developed and then they migrate by "divine will" to meet up and join together. The antagonist in both books is "a man with no face". He had morphing features, magical powers and pseudo religious origins. The chief mystic protagonists in both books were women. The main theme of both books revolved around a "Manachean" battle between "light and dark", "good and evil" the main theme of both books. Of course in both the good and light win in the end.
As "The Stand" was written much earlier than "Swan Song" it is clear the McCammon must have read the King novel or perhaps saw the movie. I do not know if he knew what he was doing when he penned "Swan Song" but the similarities were to pervasive not to notice.
One thing I also don't understand is the need for either writer to engage in the supernatural. Isn't the end of the world as we know it enough grist for the mill?
I love historic fiction but from the first page the reader seemed to talk just above a whisper. Images of ancient Greece, social structures and interpersonal relations illuminated. However, couldn't get through it. Painful to listen to the persistent love struck language and attitude regarding the relationship between the protagonists.
This is the kind of historic story telling I adore. Julius Caesar was an incredible warrior and leader of men. But he may well have laid the ground work for the western world we now live in when he put together 10th Legion circa 60 BC from raw recruits in the Roman territory of Spain and birthed an an entity that would shaped western history for nearly 150 years into the future. The the details of the troop movements and detailed information on what it took to form a legion of fighting man into a coherent force fleshed out the realities of the Roman age. For me it was the personal stories of soldiers that made up the 10th Legion that really what sets this work apart from others. In fact, I was shocked that the 10th eventually found itself on the opposing side of the from Caesar's nephew Octavius and under the leadership of Mark Anthony at Actium.I do wish more detail was provided on Caesar's battle for Alexandria but true to the goal of the work the 10th Legion was not involved in the struggle in Egypt.
Long after the time of Caesar at the end of the Julian dynasty upon the death of Nero, the role played by the 10th Legion in the rise of the Flavian rulers of Rome and the history of the Jewish revolts proved fascinating.
Excellent reading of the work.
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