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The Virtues of War


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About the Author

STEVEN PRESSFIELD is the author of the novels, Last of the Amazons, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire and Tides of War. He lives in California where he is at work on his next historical novel.


"I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life." Esteemed historical novelist Pressfield (Gates of Fire; Tides of War) crawls inside the brave heart of Alexander the Great in this chronicle of the king's bloody and extraordinary accomplishments and boundless ambition. Presented as Alexander's confessions (and lessons) to his brother-in-law, Itanes, as the Macedonian commander and his increasingly reluctant armies try to figure out how to cross "this river of India" to engage in yet another battle, the novel tells of Alexander's father's last victory (the defeat of the Greeks at Chaeronea) before his assassination; of how, over his father's corpse, Alexander cements his plans for future campaigns; of his struggle with his "daimon," which would call him to glory; of his burning of Thebes; of his march east and his slaughter throughout Asia; of his murder of his friend Cleitus ("I felt his spine shear"). Alexander's voice swoops from high-minded rhetoric to earthy vernacular as he regales Itanes with bloody battle scenes and stories of horror and triumph. For devotees of Alexandrite military history-and there are many-this is a sympathetic if slightly overlong portrait of a man who knew no doubt: "Fame imperishable and glory that will never die: that is what we march for!" (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

-Praise for Tides of War:
"Pressfield serves up not just hair-raising scenes...but many moments of valor and cowardice, lust and bawdy humor....Even more impressively, he delivers a nuanced portrait of ancient Athens."--Esquire "Unabashedly brilliant, epic, intelligent, and moving."--Kirkus Reviews and for Gates of Fire:
"Vivid and exciting, Pressfield gives the reader a perspective no ancient historian offers, a soldier's-eye view...remarkable." ---The New York Times Book Review "Gates of Fire lives up to its billing as an epic novel....His Greeks and Persians come across as the real thing."--San Francisco Chronicle

Pressfield has authored several popular novels about the ancient world (e.g., Gates of Fire), and his latest is sure to be a hit with his fans owing to its narrator: Alexander the Great himself. From an army camp mired in the Indus valley just before his last great victory, Alexander dictates his story, as epic as it is brief (he died at 33), to his page. This vantage point gives the reader an intriguing and plausible picture of what drives Alexander to keep going over the next hill to play "Kill the King," as he puts it, and conquer most of what was the known world in 300 B.C.E. Pressfield's exceptionally vivid prose evokes the period, and his play-by-play descriptions of the weapons, formations, strategies, and individual bouts should please the most meticulous military history buff. Mary Renault's The Persian Boy also recalls Alexander's life but as seen through the eyes of his young eunuch lover. With two movies about Alexander in the works (Oliver Stone's version is to be released this November), there should be demand. For most historical fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/04.]-Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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