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The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the…
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The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great

by Steven Pressfield

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
The Virtues of War is the perfect mix of fact and fiction to make a good book. The author clearly did his research and uses accurate details to form a fascinating picture of life around 320BC. However, as he states in the introduction, he’s also able to take liberties with the facts and put battles and speeches in the order which makes the best narrative. Best of all, the book is told as though Alexander is speaking to a nephew, leading to what I think are some of the major strengths of this book.

First, this book is barely fiction and reads a lot like narrative non-fiction. Alexander the Great was pretty awesome and it’s a lot of fun to get some insight into his motivation and emotions. It’s even more fun because the author’s speculation on Alexander is backed up by sources from Alexander’s time. At least that impression is given and an internet search supports that view, although no bibliography was included. The author also does a good job of integrating Alexander’s past with the current point in his campaign, which makes it feel as though Alexander himself is talking and seeing relations between earlier events in his life and his present. Something about it just makes the narrative feel natural. Finally, the actual quotes are worked in nicely and outside sources never make the narrative choppy.

The only problems I had with the book all relate to the battles, starting with the exacting level of detail in which they’re described. This is neat, but sometimes over done (unit listings, for example) and sometimes hard to follow (battlefield maps would have helped a lot). The battle descriptions don’t spare on the gore either, so to steal Jessica at Quirky Bookworm‘s question, no, I would not recommend it to your grandmother. It was barely this side of being too much for me to enjoy. Fortunately, unlike the battles, the gore was a small part of the book and everything else was superbly done.

Who should read it? history buffs, fans of narrative non-fiction, my friend with a man-crush on Alexander the Great, not your grandmother

This review first published on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
Great book. The book left me heart broken at the end for the loss of Alexander to our world. ( )
  Benjamin.Timmins | Jan 8, 2014 |
120 pages in a week? Inconceivable.

I wanted to like this book, and there were moments when I did. But overall, I was bored out of my skull. Couldn't make it halfway. I already renewed it once at the library and I can't see holding onto it when I'd rather read medication warning labels more exciting stuff.

I think I could like Pressfield, if he'd focus on characters and story rather than play-by-play details of battles. His narrative voice for the first person Alexander is off too. Doesn't make him sympathetic at all.

I'll give it 2-stars. Because it's "ok" rather than something I dislike. But life is too short to mire oneself in "ok" reading experiences. ( )
  Texas_Reaver | Mar 31, 2013 |
The Virtues of War is the perfect mix of fact and fiction to make a good book. The author clearly did his research and uses accurate details to form a fascinating picture of life around 320BC. However, as he states in the introduction, he’s also able to take liberties with the facts and put battles and speeches in the order which makes the best narrative. Best of all, the book is told as though Alexander is speaking to a nephew, leading to what I think are some of the major strengths of this book.

First, this book is barely fiction and reads a lot like narrative non-fiction. Alexander the Great was pretty awesome and it’s a lot of fun to get some insight into his motivation and emotions. It’s even more fun because the author’s speculation on Alexander is backed up by sources from Alexander’s time. At least that impression is given and an internet search supports that view, although no bibliography was included. The author also does a good job of integrating Alexander’s past with the current point in his campaign, which makes it feel as though Alexander himself is talking and seeing relations between earlier events in his life and his present. Something about it just makes the narrative feel natural. Finally, the actual quotes are worked in nicely and outside sources never make the narrative choppy.

The only problems I had with the book all relate to the battles, starting with the exacting level of detail in which they’re described. This is neat, but sometimes over done (unit listings, for example) and sometimes hard to follow (battlefield maps would have helped a lot). The battle descriptions don’t spare on the gore either, so to steal Jessica at Quirky Bookworm‘s question, no, I would not recommend it to your grandmother. It was barely this side of being too much for me to enjoy. Fortunately, unlike the battles, the gore was a small part of the book and everything else was superbly done. ( )
  DoingDewey | Nov 7, 2012 |
Good book, I'll read more from the author.
Drawbacks: annoying use of modern terms
What I learned: Alexander the Great was a sissy.
  Neilsantos | Oct 8, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
He ruled over these nations, even though they did not speak the same language as he, nor one nation the same as another; for all that, he was able to cover so vast a region with the fear which he inspired, that he struck all men with terror and no one tried to withstand him; and he was able to awaken in all so lively a desire to please him, that they always wished to be guided by his will.
--Xenophon, "The Education of Cyrus"
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For Mike and Chrissy
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I have always been a soldier.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553382055, Paperback)

I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. So begins Alexander’s extraordinary confession on the eve of his greatest crisis of leadership. By turns heroic and calculating, compassionate and utterly merciless, Alexander recounts with a warrior’s unflinching eye for detail the blood, the terror, and the tactics of his greatest battlefield victories. Whether surviving his father’s brutal assassination, presiding over a massacre, or weeping at the death of a beloved comrade-in-arms, Alexander never denies the hard realities of the code by which he lives: the virtues of war. But as much as he was feared by his enemies, he was loved and revered by his friends, his generals, and the men who followed him into battle. Often outnumbered, never outfought, Alexander conquered every enemy the world stood against him–but the one he never saw coming. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:44 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Narrated in the voice of Alexander the Great, Steven Pressfield brings to life the epic battles, the unerring command of his forces, and the passions and ambitions that drove one of the world's greatest commanders, and paints a portrait of this complex character.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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