In the brilliantly imagined first-person voice of Alexander the Great, acclaimed novelist Steven Pressfield brings to life his epic battles, his unerring command of his forces, and the passions and ambitions that drove him. A full-blooded, multi-dimensional portrait, The Virtues of War captures Alexander's complex character. No one tells of battles as brilliantly as Pressfield, and here he vividly describes the seminal conflicts of Alexander's career, revealing the tactics behind them and capturing the blood, heat, and terror of the battlefield.
©2004 Steven Pressfield; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.
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
Alexander the Great is of course one of the major historical figures. In a short 12 hours Pressfield describes his ascent as king of Makedonia to conquering an empire and finally succumbing after being transformed by his experiences as the supreme warlord.
Originally 'simply' an incredibly brilliant war strategist and brave warrior, his decades long wars with increasing confrontation with more advanced civilizations changes Alexander, and alienates him from his erstwhile comrades.
The book describes the war tactics of Alexander and his adversaries, how Alexander whips up but also makes mistakes with his warrior group that is further and further away from home. And describes his own feelings of being the lonely man-god that is not allowed to fail. It is a world very distant from ours, in its brutality/barbarism, its honor code and its interpersonal relationships. But still close enough to understand and enjoy.
John Lee as always is a brilliant narrator.
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.
Wow! Pressfield is not just a story teller, he is a thinker, a philosopher. Alexander of Macedon has enjoyed mythic renown for centuries, but who has told his story with such glaring insights into this human condition of ours? I really enjoyed this book.
Pressfield did such great work with the Spartans in "Gates of Fire" and Alcibiades in "Tides of War", that I expected a similar enthralling story of Alexander. Unfortunately I was a bit disappoiinted still enjoyed the story but found myself more confused at times than interested.
This is not a novel. This is (maybe) a diary. Mostly, it is a war log. It gives excruciating detail on each battle Alexander fought (the formation, how many foot soldiers, how many cavalry, how the soldiers were equipped, each blow they landed). I listened to about half... waiting for the story to begin. When I realized that this was a military history tome, I stopped and moved on to something more interesting.
Readers who expect another "Gates of Fire" from Pressfield will be slightly disappointed here, as I was, because "Virtues of War" seems to be sold as a similar novel, but is in fact, more tame, and more of a character study than a novel of war. It is about war, while not having much war in it. So, going in with this knowledge, you might be better prepared. Alexander is an interesting figure here, and we get some good insight to how he felt about his life. There are some pieces missing... there's no talk of his mother and the relationship with Hephastion seems to be skirted slightly (Pressfield not wanting to get into the bisexuality issue?). Read this if you like military history, the topic of war, and the time period. But if you're looking for a true, gritty war novel, there might be some other choices you'd make first.
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