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2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . . The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c. In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven 2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . . The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c. In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven Pressfield brings to life the confrontation between an invading Western army and fierce Eastern warriors determined at all costs to defend their homeland. Narrated by an infantryman in Alexander’s army, The Afghan Campaign explores the challenges, both military and moral, that Alexander and his soldiers face as they embark on a new type of war and are forced to adapt to the methods of a ruthless foe that employs terror and insurgent tactics. An edge-of-your-seat adventure, The Afghan Campaign once again demonstrates Pressfield’s profound understanding of the hopes and desperation of men in battle and of the historical realities that continue to influence our world.


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2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . . The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c. In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven 2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . . The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c. In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven Pressfield brings to life the confrontation between an invading Western army and fierce Eastern warriors determined at all costs to defend their homeland. Narrated by an infantryman in Alexander’s army, The Afghan Campaign explores the challenges, both military and moral, that Alexander and his soldiers face as they embark on a new type of war and are forced to adapt to the methods of a ruthless foe that employs terror and insurgent tactics. An edge-of-your-seat adventure, The Afghan Campaign once again demonstrates Pressfield’s profound understanding of the hopes and desperation of men in battle and of the historical realities that continue to influence our world.

30 review for The Afghan Campaign

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    4.5*'s. It's somewhat amazing to think that Cyrus the Great, Darius of Persia, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, The Mughal Empire, The Sikh Empire, The British Empire, The Soviets and latest the Americans and Nato have all tried to tame this wild hard land. This book deals with the time of Alexander. It's amazing the parallels between how the Afghan's fought a force both superior in manpower, conventional "advanced" war theory and technology to a standstill by knowing the terrain and using it a 4.5*'s. It's somewhat amazing to think that Cyrus the Great, Darius of Persia, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, The Mughal Empire, The Sikh Empire, The British Empire, The Soviets and latest the Americans and Nato have all tried to tame this wild hard land. This book deals with the time of Alexander. It's amazing the parallels between how the Afghan's fought a force both superior in manpower, conventional "advanced" war theory and technology to a standstill by knowing the terrain and using it against the enemy the same way they have in the most recent historical battles. What this book offers is the rationale behind the Afghan mindset and how it's counterintuitive to all European based way of thinking. Not that I agree with that mindset but really it brings into the light how it still remains the same and how they are not going to change. The choice laid before the soldiers is genocide or withdrawal because as long as one member of a tribe survives there will always be a knife in the back. Told through the eyes of a third son following his father and brothers into the "glory" of being a soldier this had the raw dessert warrior feel of Deadhouse Gates. Reading this Erikson definitely drew a lot of this campaign, as he did others, in telling that tale. The pure savagery on both sides taking on a barbaric level where nothing is out of bounds. This is not a light tale. Nor does it have a happy ending. It is realistic, informative, brutal and in the end offers some uncompromising truths about war and trying to change the heart of a people.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    A solid piece of social historical fiction (the Alltagsgeschichte of Afghanistan?). Pressfield's fiction manages well to express ideas and concepts that would be more difficult to tell in straigth-forward nonfiction, history or even memoir formats. Pressfield straddles the (often fine) line between warrior and poet, East and West, old and new Afghanistan, and the best and worst of human nature. Like Killing Rommel, _The Afghan Campaign_ uses minor/line/non-heroic characters to retell a historica A solid piece of social historical fiction (the Alltagsgeschichte of Afghanistan?). Pressfield's fiction manages well to express ideas and concepts that would be more difficult to tell in straigth-forward nonfiction, history or even memoir formats. Pressfield straddles the (often fine) line between warrior and poet, East and West, old and new Afghanistan, and the best and worst of human nature. Like Killing Rommel, _The Afghan Campaign_ uses minor/line/non-heroic characters to retell a historical period in a new way. Pressfield's approach to historical fiction mirrors the recent push by historians like Ulrich who seek to capture "the silent work of ordinary people". Pressfield seems hellbent to capture the silent, difficult, and the often morally inconsistent work of the ordinary soldier.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    This book was rather strange. I do not know if it was just a bad book or a good story badly written. It is a historical fiction and I am unfamiliar with the author though from a GR check he does seem to be an accomplished professional. As an accomplished author I am at a loss to explain the apparent sloppiness of this book. For a historical fiction to meet my approval the story must mesh with the historical event(s) depicted. In this book the history concerns the invasion of Afghanistan by Alexa This book was rather strange. I do not know if it was just a bad book or a good story badly written. It is a historical fiction and I am unfamiliar with the author though from a GR check he does seem to be an accomplished professional. As an accomplished author I am at a loss to explain the apparent sloppiness of this book. For a historical fiction to meet my approval the story must mesh with the historical event(s) depicted. In this book the history concerns the invasion of Afghanistan by Alexander the Great in about 330BCE. The story is about a young Greek infantry recruit named Matthias. Sadly, Matthias' story simply uses the Alexander history as a backdrop and the Alexander history is thin at best. In actuality Matthias' story is pretty ordinary and typical of the story of any infantry grunt in any army, in any war, in any country, at any time. However, the story itself isn't bad or badly written but the sloppiness occurs in the history and its detail. If you are going to write historical fiction then you must get your history straight or you lose the real history readers. This author lost me. He describes Afghan warriors as "braves" and their women as "squaws". Terms used traditionally to describe Native American warriors and their women. He describes Afghan cultural practices that are more akin to practices in Muslim cultures but Islam won't be established for another thousand years. He calls native women "dames", a 20th century expression. And what is most laughable is that he has these soldiers sending and receiving mail from Greece to Afghanistan. This is 330 BCE. Paper, and he does refer to paper being used, won't be invented until roughly 100BCE and that will be in China. Paper doesn't reach Europe until well into the Middle Ages but this author has it being used centuries before its historical existence. If that isn't enough should we discuss literacy? It is unlikely that any of these soldiers were able to read or write so sending them mail is idiotic. How could this author make such mistakes? Again, he is an accomplished professional and the story is well written even though the detail is grossly in error. Why? The erroneous material spans cultures, times, peoples. Could there have been something else at play here? Could this book have been meant as some sort of allegory or parable on the futility war especially war in this part of the world? God knows Afghanistan seems to be an area frozen in time that defies any attempt at modern intrusion from any source regardless of intent. Well such a message would be one worth pondering but the fact remains that the author did a clumsy job of imparting it. If he had something important to say then he could have done it better than this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alicja

    rating: 3.5/5 I have mixed feelings about this novel, it doesn't compare to Pressfield's Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae but has some great moments, descriptions, and characters despite a major flaw that annoyed me to no end. I'll start with what I loved, mainly Shinar. It is so rare that historical fiction with battles and warriors has such a realistic portrayal of women in history that are strong but still within their prescribed culture. Many times portrayals of women rating: 3.5/5 I have mixed feelings about this novel, it doesn't compare to Pressfield's Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae but has some great moments, descriptions, and characters despite a major flaw that annoyed me to no end. I'll start with what I loved, mainly Shinar. It is so rare that historical fiction with battles and warriors has such a realistic portrayal of women in history that are strong but still within their prescribed culture. Many times portrayals of women veer into fantasy warriors (which I love in fantasy but not historical fiction) or to the opposite, to that of women concerned only about marriage and babies (which bores me to death). Instead, we have Shinar whose life has been devastated by war and yet who remained strong and defiant in a culturally complicated world. I won't go into everything here since I don't want to spoil the plot but Shinar was by far my favorite character and probably the most complex as well (despite the story being told from Matthias' first person POV). It was also interesting to see another side to Alexander the Great's campaigns, from the point of view of a common soldier. I was disappointed at first when I realized that there is actually very, very little Alexander in this book. But then realized that maybe it was a good thing. I have an image of Alexander painted with Renault's beautiful words and am afraid other interpretations would not live up to it. Here I didn't have to worry. There is one generic scene with Alexander but not long enough to get anything but a vague idea of the kind of general he was. Despite its slow start, by midway of the novel Pressfield paints beautiful and horrific images of Alexander's soldiers' tribulations. The realities of moving such a huge army, and moving as swiftly as historical accounts indicate, are presented beautifully and in detail. I gained an admiration for his logistics officers. And the battle scenes were amazingly drawn as well. However, there was one huge negative that didn't allow me to get lost inside this ancient world he created and it was the language he used. I am not saying that the soldiers back then didn't use slang, I am sure they did, but Pressfield's use of modern slang and terminology grated. Additionally, he also used words like dames for women which I associate more with the 1920s (plus, that specific word just pisses me off in general). I'm sure this contributed to my rough start with the novel. By midway, either less slang was used or I had gotten used to it because the language didn't bother me, as much. Regardless, it left me annoyed and despite the amazing story and characters I just couldn't help being thankful that it was over.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Upon comparing this novel with Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by this author, I liked it as much, or even more. Pressfield exhibited the same brilliant writing on ancient warfare. The novel was very thoughtful and one I will not soon forget. This story is told by a raw recruit, Matthias, from Macedonia. He describes his 'signing up' with his best friend Lucas, and their adventures with Alexander the Great's Army in Afghanistan--a land of desert, mountains and light. Ma Upon comparing this novel with Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by this author, I liked it as much, or even more. Pressfield exhibited the same brilliant writing on ancient warfare. The novel was very thoughtful and one I will not soon forget. This story is told by a raw recruit, Matthias, from Macedonia. He describes his 'signing up' with his best friend Lucas, and their adventures with Alexander the Great's Army in Afghanistan--a land of desert, mountains and light. Matthias develops from a tyro to a real soldier through his experiences. There are many skirmishes and battles; the harsh mores of the Afghans are laid out. A harrowing journey through the mountains in which many men are lost, but one soldier rescued, is described in horrific detail. Matthias and Lucas live through cruel captivity. The two soldiers were fleshed-out well and very sympathetic. I really liked the main themes--bonding among the soldiers and the morality of war. A commonplace expression by now, but Shakespeare's Henry V, in his talk standing in front of his soldiers before Agincourt, in a future war, said it best. Matthias and his colleagues truly are welded into a "band of brothers." The question of morality in war permeates the book; at one place, Lucas feels the soldiers' humanity is becoming diminished and sheer brutality is replacing it. As a new soldier, Matthias shrinks from killing a prisoner and later frees a woman slave who becomes his. This latter act breaks the Afghan moral code, which Matthias does not understand [and, neither do I, in truth]. I felt dimly there were parallels to the present-day conflicts in that area. Then I saw one of Pressfield's advisors was a man who had fought there. I could see how Pressfield probably incorporated some of his thinking into the novel. Most highly recommended!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Stephen Pressfield has garnered laurels for his ability to describe the utter brutality of ancient warfare and his descriptions of battles fought during the campaign of Alexander the Great in Afghanistan in his novel "The Afghan Campaign" are as wrenching as those depicted in Pressfield's "Gates of Fire". Told from the perspective of a common soldier rather than from Alexander's viewpoint or the viewpoint of one of Alexander's commanders, "The Afghan Campaign" provides the reader the opportunity Stephen Pressfield has garnered laurels for his ability to describe the utter brutality of ancient warfare and his descriptions of battles fought during the campaign of Alexander the Great in Afghanistan in his novel "The Afghan Campaign" are as wrenching as those depicted in Pressfield's "Gates of Fire". Told from the perspective of a common soldier rather than from Alexander's viewpoint or the viewpoint of one of Alexander's commanders, "The Afghan Campaign" provides the reader the opportunity to experience the grinding existence of a man struggling to maintain some shred of integrity in a hostile and intractable world. Alexander is most often glimpsed from a distance and we are not privy to his strategic debates or daily dispatches to help us understand the "big picture" he sees in his efforts to add the tribes of the Hindu Kush to his role of conquered nations. We must, through Matteius' eyes, simply endure the relentless wind, quagmires of mud, and bitterly cold snow and sleet, as we climb and descend the deadly precipices that score the Afghan countryside in search of a foe that materializes suddenly to engage in deadly tribal rituals, counting coup and scalping or mutilating their victims, then escapes back into the mountains where, unlike the Macedonians, they appear to thrive. We feel Mattteius' frustration rise to an excruciating level as his comrades are butchered in ambushes or slain by duplicitous camp followers. As the war wears on, he participates in retaliatory strikes where entire villages are put to the sword and torched as efforts intensify to "win" an ultimately unwinnable war. Matteius' acceptance of these measures poignantly demonstrates the ultimate result of living amidst so much brutality - the loss of one's own humanity as both sides must cultivate ruthlessness to simply survive.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    I love Steven Pressfield. I've read the majority of his books and have loved them all. Those books had a lot of emotional impact. Sadly, The Afghan Campaign does not. The Afghan Campaign is a lot more technical. Pressfield's previous books dealt with the same material but for whatever reason, this one goes into more details when it comes to weaponry, occupation, fighting, campaigns, and everything else it is to be a soldier. Whenever there's a part in the story that would get emotional, it's told I love Steven Pressfield. I've read the majority of his books and have loved them all. Those books had a lot of emotional impact. Sadly, The Afghan Campaign does not. The Afghan Campaign is a lot more technical. Pressfield's previous books dealt with the same material but for whatever reason, this one goes into more details when it comes to weaponry, occupation, fighting, campaigns, and everything else it is to be a soldier. Whenever there's a part in the story that would get emotional, it's told instead of shown. In fact, a lot of the story is told--be in what's happening or what kind of weapons there are. There is a point way late in the story when Matthias gets a woman. That does open up things a bit as he's struggling with her, the campaign, the land, and of course his fiancée. Pressfield seems to take awhile going back to it so much so that I stopped caring. A lot of that is also told too. The biggest problem with The Afghan Campaign is that it feels like it was created from his previous book, The Virtues of War. It's as if he had so much great stuff that he researched in that book that he didn't want to waste so he made this book. I'll still list Pressfield as one of my favorite authors. I've loved all the other books he's written so I'm not surprised that this is the bump in the road.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This historical novel is about Alexander the Great's invasion of Afghanistan in 330 B.C. It's the one place where Alexander's army met with less than total success. More than once they invaded an area only to learn that their enemy had mysteriously appeared in their rear. This was frustrating to an army that knew they were the best in the world and were used to conquering any force that confronted them. This book is an amplification of one of the chapters of the book, The Virtues of War: A Novel This historical novel is about Alexander the Great's invasion of Afghanistan in 330 B.C. It's the one place where Alexander's army met with less than total success. More than once they invaded an area only to learn that their enemy had mysteriously appeared in their rear. This was frustrating to an army that knew they were the best in the world and were used to conquering any force that confronted them. This book is an amplification of one of the chapters of the book, The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great by the same author. The narrative of this book is told in first person from the point of view of a corporal in Alexander's cavalry (he's a foot soldier part of the time). It's interesting to try to find parallels with more recent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan by a foreign power. See if you and detect some similarities. 1. Alexander's forces were a western undefeated super power that was relatively high tech for their time. (Think shock and awe.) 2. Alexander's campaign arrogantly invaded the country, ignorant of its culture. (Think Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld's world view.) 3. Alexander prematurely declared victory. (Think "Mission Accomplished" on the aircraft carrier.) 4. Soon after the invasion, an insurgency popped up. (Think Iraq for the past seven years and Taliban more recently.) 5. Spitamenes, the leader of the resistance, was an educated son of a wealthy Persian, not a native to the country. (Think Osama bin Laden.) 6. Alexander responded with conventional military force. (Think Marines sacking Fallujah.) 7. Alexander tried sealing the borders. (Think Syrian or Pakistan borders.) 8. Alexander then called in additional reinforcements. (Think surge in deployments.) 9. In desperation Alexander began hiring the militias and the tribes who had been fighting him. (Think Anbar awakening.) 10. Part of Alexander's exit strategy was to marry a tribal chief's daughter. (Not sure that option will work today.) 11. One tactic used by Alexander's forces was to kill off the native population, women and children included. (I hope we're civilized enough to not try that tactic in today's global environment.) 12. The unconventional nature of the war hurt the morale of Alexander's forces. (Could the Abu Ghraib prison be a parallel here?) 13. In the negotiations to end the conflict it was important to reach an agreement in which both sides could claim victory. (Suggestions of negotiating with the Taliban?) (Note to strict historians: I know a few things were stretched and conflated to make the above parallels.) It should be noted here that it was common for Alexander to incorporate former foes into his army. This particular book tells of action taken to repress the spread of the knowledge of certain atrocities in order to allow the hiring of former enemy tribesmen who had committed the atrocities. I don't know if the author had a historical basis for including that incident. Nevertheless, it created another modern parallel; propaganda and control of news coverage. The following quote from the book explains in Alexander's words why it is time to cut and run (i.e. declare victory and leave): "This is what war is," says Alexander. "Glory has fled. One searches in vain for honor. We've all done things we're ashamed of. Even Victory, as Aeschylus says, "in whose august glow all felonies are effaced," is not the same in this war. What remains? To prevent the needless waste of lives. Too many good men have perished without cause. More will join them if we don't make this peace now." Other powers have invaded Afghanistan since the time of Alexander, and they all have had their problems. Over the past couple hundred years that included the British (two times) and the Soviets. If Alexander were still with us he'd probably say that it's the same o' same o'. There's a love story of sorts woven into the plot as well. It turns into a parable of war. Romantics will be disappointed. The book ends with these words: "Though blind, God sees; though deaf, He hears. ... ...Afghanistan's deity gives up nothing. One appeals to him in vain. Yet he sustains those who call themselves his children, who wring a living from this stony and sterile land." I have come to fear this god of the Afghans. And that has made me a fighting man, as they are."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Ryan

    A modernist approach to depicting ancient warfare. Pressfield's story of a young Macedonian warrior embroiled in Alexander the Great's conquest of what is today called Afghanistan has more in common with a Vietnam war memoir than a poetic epic. Pressfield doesn't flinch from the brutality of war waged primarily with edged weapons but it's the inescapable parallels to contemporary troubles that are most striking: Afghanistan, it seems, has never been an easy place to invade. A modernist approach to depicting ancient warfare. Pressfield's story of a young Macedonian warrior embroiled in Alexander the Great's conquest of what is today called Afghanistan has more in common with a Vietnam war memoir than a poetic epic. Pressfield doesn't flinch from the brutality of war waged primarily with edged weapons but it's the inescapable parallels to contemporary troubles that are most striking: Afghanistan, it seems, has never been an easy place to invade.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Louis

    This is about a soldier in the time of Alexander the Great of Macedon, around 330 BC. Alexander the Great has conquered everywhere using standard tactics of drawing out his enemy and defeating it on the battlefield. And he has conquered the Persian empire, the greatest in the world. And, on the way to the riches of India, lay the Hindu Kush, present day Afghanistan. The Afghan Campaign is written from the point of view of a new soldier. During the war against the Persians Matthias joins the Maced This is about a soldier in the time of Alexander the Great of Macedon, around 330 BC. Alexander the Great has conquered everywhere using standard tactics of drawing out his enemy and defeating it on the battlefield. And he has conquered the Persian empire, the greatest in the world. And, on the way to the riches of India, lay the Hindu Kush, present day Afghanistan. The Afghan Campaign is written from the point of view of a new soldier. During the war against the Persians Matthias joins the Macedonian army, following in the footsteps of his brothers. However, he is too late to join in the glorious wars against the Persians. But, he arrives in the Hindu Kush, after the main battle. But the war is not over. Over the course of the campaign, Matthias sees victory, loss. Friends are killed in barbaric ways and he takes part in atrocities that make him sick. His family gives his support, and his fiance leaves him. And at the end, he is frustrated with the war, has the spoils of war that his brother tells him to take home, and decides to continue with Alexander. So, what is the point? Why this pseudo-history of the ancient world? The question for this is not to present a history, but to present an experience. So, do I think it is accurate, all things considered. And, well, it is. When you are in the middle of things, you don't have too much time to think about the big picture, unless you have that kind of position. Your general thoughts as far as war is concerned are about the day in question. But there are times to think about other things. You are very concerned about your comrade around you, their fortunes, successes, failures. Their hurts and their victories are shared and felt by you. And you think of loved ones behind. Of people back home who support and love you. Of those who have forgotten you. And those who have let you go and gone their own way. Someone asked me if I missed anything about serving in Afghanistan, it was that. The sense that we shared in the struggles, successes and frustrations of each other. The guy who we all said had the worst job in the office, as he was having his direction of effort changed almost hourly, and never could get what he was doing done well enough to be satisfying. The senior officer who did not have a well defined job, who spent his time making snide remarks and complaining about little mickey mouse issues. The guys who got regular packages and letters from home (I was one of them), especially the newlywed whose wife sent him a package including baked cookies weekly (the winner). We worried about the guy who was a bit of a loner and never got packages (and were real relieved when his mother sent something). I loved it when all the guys on the staff were pulling for me when I gave a big presentation that needed very senior officer support, giving me feedback, suggestions, and general "ask for whatever help you need" support. We talked to our families and shared in the fustrations, joys, stories (funny, sad, frustrating and proud). The ideas, dreams and hopes we had for the future. All the things that make us real human beings. And Pressfield presents that well, both the good and the bad. Obviously, the book is for a certain type of person. The gore exists, as it is also a part of war. But it is not there for its own sake. It is there because it is part of the environment that shapes the people. And to that extent, it, like some of his other works (e.g. GatesofFire?), does the job wonderfully.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    A really interesting book by Steven Pressfield. This is the second book of his that I have read and am hooked. He has been called an expert on ancient warfare and I believe it. This also reads like a history book. He does great character study and development while weaving in historical movements and happenings. I sometimes get caught up in wondering if things were as advanced as he makes them seem in that time but then remember that he has done far more research than me on the subject. The obvio A really interesting book by Steven Pressfield. This is the second book of his that I have read and am hooked. He has been called an expert on ancient warfare and I believe it. This also reads like a history book. He does great character study and development while weaving in historical movements and happenings. I sometimes get caught up in wondering if things were as advanced as he makes them seem in that time but then remember that he has done far more research than me on the subject. The obvious and intentional parallels to modern day warfare in Afghanistan this book seems to accurately portray the very reasons we will never fully subdue Afghans. There strategies and customs fit their region and culture so effectively that they have not had to change things much. I think this would be an excellent book for anyone who has interest in the current conflict there to read as well as people who just like well written historical fiction. I am going to stick with Pressfield through a few more books as he is a very good author with a unique subject matter and specialty.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Artemas

    Great book! Steven Pressfield has a unique gift for writing historical/military fiction. He seamlessly blended one soldier's tale with that of the entire campaign without having one overshadow the other. Probably my favorite aspect of this book is that the only difference between the way Alexander the Great and the Afghans fight compared to our modern day war in Afghanistan is the weapons used. I thought that was pretty fascinating considering the amount of time that has lapsed since the Macedon Great book! Steven Pressfield has a unique gift for writing historical/military fiction. He seamlessly blended one soldier's tale with that of the entire campaign without having one overshadow the other. Probably my favorite aspect of this book is that the only difference between the way Alexander the Great and the Afghans fight compared to our modern day war in Afghanistan is the weapons used. I thought that was pretty fascinating considering the amount of time that has lapsed since the Macedonians marched through that part of the world. Get your copy here: https://amzn.to/2JS8dla

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    An anachronistic allegory. It's a little hard to to ignore the parallels in Pressfield's story of Alexander's invasion and conquering of Afghanistan and the U.S. invasion of the same. But Pressfield's 2006 novel sounds positively quaint in recounting that it took Alexander THREE WHOLE YEARS to conquer Afghanistan. Even at the time of of writing, the US was 5 years in and is still there nearly 20 years later. So a culturally diverse and technologically advanced Macedonian army invades the tribalis An anachronistic allegory. It's a little hard to to ignore the parallels in Pressfield's story of Alexander's invasion and conquering of Afghanistan and the U.S. invasion of the same. But Pressfield's 2006 novel sounds positively quaint in recounting that it took Alexander THREE WHOLE YEARS to conquer Afghanistan. Even at the time of of writing, the US was 5 years in and is still there nearly 20 years later. So a culturally diverse and technologically advanced Macedonian army invades the tribalistic and remote region of Afghanistan in an attempt to spread the farmer's values... hijinks and guerilla warfare and attrition ensue. The problems are in the frequent use of anachronistic language Pressfield employs. Too many modern terms and concepts (including the Macedonians using modern house clearing tactics and cordoning off neighborhoods, among others). Anyway, this particular tale focuses on the end of the war where Alexander was able to buy peace by marrying the daughter of a major warlord. Kinda wish Bush or Obama had tried that (at least for the comedy). But this is more a tale of Matthias, a common soldier who has to find his way in the Macedonian army while also navigating the foreign cultural norms of the Afghans. These norms (pre-Islamic but still very tribalistic) form the central conflict as Matthias meets an Afghan girl, falls in love, and "marries" her. But we've still got honor codes to deal with... and Alexander remains on the march. The story hits most of the beats of a period historical fiction novel: soldiers griping, cameos by major historical figures, and some reasonably accurate battles. But the somewhat strained attempts at allegory (or maybe analogue), leaves this 2006 effort somewhat wanting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ms Pat

    Thrilling and wonderfully told, The Afghan Campaign recounts Alexander the Great's campaign in the Afghan kingdoms which began in the summer of 330 BC. This bloody and ruthless conflict is written from the perspective of a Macedonian recruit. The youngest of three brothers and eager to prove himself, Mathias has volunteered to join the leader he worships on his ambitious expedition into the unknown, unconquered country we now call Afghanistan. I enjoy the way the writer puts forth his ideas and h Thrilling and wonderfully told, The Afghan Campaign recounts Alexander the Great's campaign in the Afghan kingdoms which began in the summer of 330 BC. This bloody and ruthless conflict is written from the perspective of a Macedonian recruit. The youngest of three brothers and eager to prove himself, Mathias has volunteered to join the leader he worships on his ambitious expedition into the unknown, unconquered country we now call Afghanistan. I enjoy the way the writer puts forth his ideas and his use of language. For example... " You ask, my friend, how I can be a soldier and a poet? I answer: how can one be a soldier and not a poet?" " I'm sorry for your girl, Matthias." I quote his proverb: Though blind, God sees; though deaf, He hears. You would find it hard to put down the book once you start on it because not only does it take you through the war in Afghan but it gives you insight to the hopes and fears of men in battle and natures of wars past... and present.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chompa

    I started this book on a recommendation. Actually on numerous recommendations as I've been hearing about Steven Pressfield and his historic novels for a while. In other words, I started this without knowing anything more than the title and an assumption it would take place in Afghanistan. Well, I was right that it took place in Afghanistan. My guesses about Russian or current occupation were way off, but strangely pertinent. This was Alexander's push to the East in expanding his empire. Alexande I started this book on a recommendation. Actually on numerous recommendations as I've been hearing about Steven Pressfield and his historic novels for a while. In other words, I started this without knowing anything more than the title and an assumption it would take place in Afghanistan. Well, I was right that it took place in Afghanistan. My guesses about Russian or current occupation were way off, but strangely pertinent. This was Alexander's push to the East in expanding his empire. Alexander had conquered Persia (modern day Iran) and was moving toward India, but first needed to conquer Afghanistan. The book is written from the perspective of an infantry soldier from Macedon named Matthias. Matthias and his friend Lukas join the army with dreams of glory and wealth. Both of Matthias' older brothers are members of Alexander's elite cavalry, but Matthias accepts a role as an infantryman. The book covers Matthias' long trek to Afghanistan and the many hardships entailed. When he is finally thrust into combat, Matthias is a mess. Terrified, reluctant to do violence and laughed at by the troops. We follow Matthias over the years in Afghanistan and learn of the people, the terrain and how Alexander's army operates. Over time Matthias becomes a soldier, but it is at the expense of being who he was. He is hardened and desensitized to violence. A very interesting aspect of this book is talking about how hard it is to conquer Afghanistan. The native people are hardened and willful. The land is treacherous and works against invaders. Where thus far, Alexander the Great has had relatively easy conquests, Afghanistan forces him into compromises. This really was an excellent book. It gives a view into an area of history and culture I was not familiar with. The main character and his friends are enjoyable and the story riveting. There are some very dark events in the book that drive home the harshness of this war.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ctgt

    I have come to know this man whom, before, I regarded more with awe and fear than respect. I see the whole of him now. He is a soldier in the noblest sense of the word. Tough, selfless, long-suffering. Story of a young man who enters the service of Alexander the Great's army. Pressfield does a great job of weaving the narrative between pure historical facts and the story of Matthias, a young idealistic man who signs on to serve with his friend Lucas. From the beginning as raw recruits, through th I have come to know this man whom, before, I regarded more with awe and fear than respect. I see the whole of him now. He is a soldier in the noblest sense of the word. Tough, selfless, long-suffering. Story of a young man who enters the service of Alexander the Great's army. Pressfield does a great job of weaving the narrative between pure historical facts and the story of Matthias, a young idealistic man who signs on to serve with his friend Lucas. From the beginning as raw recruits, through their struggles with killing and who they are becoming, Pressfield never shies away from the truths of the life of a soldier. You couldn’t set down a heel of bread without somebody snatching it, and a decent hat or a pair of road-slappers were sure goners. A man hung his purse next to his testicles and, after shaking hands with a stranger, checked to make sure both sacks were still where he had left them. The fact is clear, though no rookie other than Lucas owns the bowels to give it voice, that we have entered a crucible of the soul, of war’s horror, and that will change us. It has changed us already. Where will it end? Who will we be then? Myself, I feel its weight nightlong inside my skull, as spectacles of slaughter re-present themselves with such ghastliness that I dare not even shut my eyes. Really top notch historical fiction 8/10

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bfisher

    When I saw the title The Afghan Campaign, my first thought was which Afghan Campaign - 2001-2014 or 1978-1989 or 1838-1842 or ... To paraphrase Monty Python, I didn't expect the Macedonian invasion. Perhaps that is the main point of this book, that no matter how much things change in the rest of the world, things haven't changed much for fighting in Afghanistan. This book follows the career of a young Macedonian recruit fighting as a dragoon in Alexander's Afghan campaign. It describes in detail t When I saw the title The Afghan Campaign, my first thought was which Afghan Campaign - 2001-2014 or 1978-1989 or 1838-1842 or ... To paraphrase Monty Python, I didn't expect the Macedonian invasion. Perhaps that is the main point of this book, that no matter how much things change in the rest of the world, things haven't changed much for fighting in Afghanistan. This book follows the career of a young Macedonian recruit fighting as a dragoon in Alexander's Afghan campaign. It describes in detail the tactics, strategy, logistics and administration of Alexander's army as seen from a low level, as well as the recreation of the soldiers (drugs, alcohol and the local women). It ends with Alexander's face-saving exit.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick Lloyd

    This is the second book of his I have read, and I've come to accept the fact that I just don't like Pressfield. The topics are interesting, which makes me want to like it, but the dialogue seems phony. This is the second book of his I have read, and I've come to accept the fact that I just don't like Pressfield. The topics are interesting, which makes me want to like it, but the dialogue seems phony.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Afghan 330 BC or Afghan 2004 AD? You can feel the sweat drip down the neck of Matthais, the young warrior in Alexander's army, as awaits the attack. His fear is physical - you can taste it, smell it. Pressfield is a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of his books. Afghan 330 BC or Afghan 2004 AD? You can feel the sweat drip down the neck of Matthais, the young warrior in Alexander's army, as awaits the attack. His fear is physical - you can taste it, smell it. Pressfield is a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of his books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Atar

    What else can I say about Steven Pressfield that I have not already. Militarily as historical fiction goes he is hands down the greatest writer of his time. The Afghan Campaign is exactly on par with all his other masterpieces. A book you will not want to put down, one you wake up thinking about, and when you finish you automatically want another of his books to read. The story is of Alexander The Greats battles in Afghanistan told by Matthias, an young infantryman in his army. The stories told What else can I say about Steven Pressfield that I have not already. Militarily as historical fiction goes he is hands down the greatest writer of his time. The Afghan Campaign is exactly on par with all his other masterpieces. A book you will not want to put down, one you wake up thinking about, and when you finish you automatically want another of his books to read. The story is of Alexander The Greats battles in Afghanistan told by Matthias, an young infantryman in his army. The stories told parallel today’s quagmire and if any in their service we’re alive today they’d probably say “we’ve already done that” right alongside the British and the Soviets. Pressfield’s writing is so detailed, so so descriptive, and writing so fluid you tend to feel as if your right there in it with these soldiers of antiquity. This is true of the four other books I’ve read of his. I guarantee you will feel the same. Tides Of War, Gates Of Fire, The Virtues Of War (Alexander’s quest from Greece to his death), and Last Of The Amazons. All of which I thought started slow and were difficult to read at first (because of the names and slang he uses) but after an hour or so you begin to realize the depth of his genius. If you enjoy military books of any era, fiction or not, from foot soldiers view to generals perspective, take the time to read Steven Pressfields books. You will not be let down.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kenefick

    Another solid read by Pressfield. Although it does not rise to the heights of his other works, "The Afghan Campaign" takes the perspective of a footsoldier following Alexander the Great in his conquest of Afghanistan. It offers a smaller, more human story that is intentionally cautionary of our country's own overseas adventuring. If you like this, Pressfield's "The Virtues of War" is an easy recommendation. Another solid read by Pressfield. Although it does not rise to the heights of his other works, "The Afghan Campaign" takes the perspective of a footsoldier following Alexander the Great in his conquest of Afghanistan. It offers a smaller, more human story that is intentionally cautionary of our country's own overseas adventuring. If you like this, Pressfield's "The Virtues of War" is an easy recommendation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    The man who at less than 30 years of age had carved out an empire sprawling halfway across the world, the man at the statue of whose feet Julius Caesar is said to have wept thinking that he at that age had not accomplished even half of what this giant of a man could : Alexander the Great. Myths surround him, historians dub him one of the greatest generals who ever lived and one theatre of war that took him by surprise was Afghanistan. I have read in some other work that one of Alexander's battle The man who at less than 30 years of age had carved out an empire sprawling halfway across the world, the man at the statue of whose feet Julius Caesar is said to have wept thinking that he at that age had not accomplished even half of what this giant of a man could : Alexander the Great. Myths surround him, historians dub him one of the greatest generals who ever lived and one theatre of war that took him by surprise was Afghanistan. I have read in some other work that one of Alexander's battle hardened generals called the land as the "Arse-Hole of the civilized world" for its inhospitable terrain and fierce warriors. The author takes the narrative to a new level by viewing the battle through the eyes of an infantry man who is in the thick of the melee. It occured to me while reading that Afghanistan has a unique military history. Scores of invaders have burned their hands in subduing the land and the land stood defiant and so did its fiercely independant people. Geographically the land is savage and beautiful at the same time from dust bowl to craggy mountain slopes, from snow capped passes to lush vales is all a matter of distance in the land. After bringing the persian empire to its knees, Alexander had to pass through Afghanistan into the hindu kush to India. It was in Afghanistan that he had to spend three years in fighting the most brutal of his enemies, a place were alliances shifted in just days and were there was no code of honor or chivalry. As one solider puts it "Here ony winning matters, honor & courage are worth nothing". This said the tale lacks the finesse of Pressfield's other works at places. To my prejudiced eye, it was too melodramatic as it neared the climax and it even occured to me that most of the Greek soliders speak the language of the gung-ho US Marines we see in the movies. Pressfield never fails to dazzle when it comes to battlefield action, the scenes are so vivid to make one hear the thundering of the horse's hooves and clash of metal on metal. True to the narrative, Alexander appears in cameos in a few chapters and never overshadows the lead characters at any point. The narrative is strikingly good at points where the writer tells of how the horrors of war transforms the minds of people. To sum up it is a tale of how a strapping 20 year old becomes a dispassionate killing machine in three years in brutal conditions. A good read....

  23. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Many writers can tell a good story, teach you a bit of history and even make you like their protagonist. Only a special few can re-create a world, breathe life into it, and have you marching next to the hero and his comrades, sharing their dreams and weeping with them when disaster strikes. Steven Pressfield does more than just tell the story of Alexander's Afghan Campaign; he uses it as a backdrop for studying the psychological makeup that soldiers trained for conventional warfare must develop w Many writers can tell a good story, teach you a bit of history and even make you like their protagonist. Only a special few can re-create a world, breathe life into it, and have you marching next to the hero and his comrades, sharing their dreams and weeping with them when disaster strikes. Steven Pressfield does more than just tell the story of Alexander's Afghan Campaign; he uses it as a backdrop for studying the psychological makeup that soldiers trained for conventional warfare must develop when forced to fight a long guerrilla war. The concepts of self-sacrifice, camaraderie, and duty are the thematic core of this historic novel. The Afghan Campaign is written from the point of view of a new soldier. During the war against the Persians, Matthias joins the Macedonian army hoping to emulate the exploits of his brothers. However, he is too late to join in the glorious battles against the Persians. Instead he arrives in the Hindu Kush, after the Darius's main armies have been destroyed. But the war is far from over for the the Bactrians, Dahae and Scythians refuse to roll over. They won't allow Alexander free passage through their lands to invade India. Thus the Macedonians are forced to subdue the resistance, and they have to do it the hard way because this enemy will not stand still to be flattened by the phalanx. Over the course of the campaign, Matthias matures from a naive rookie to a cynical veteran. He sees hardship, victory and loss. Friends are killed in barbaric ways and he takes part in atrocities that make him sick. And at the end, when he is ready to go home with the riches and bonuses he has earned, tragedy strikes and... Just check it out for yourself. If you want to know what a soldier thinks, lives, and feels, read this book. The times and technologies have changed, but the principles have really not.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    The story of Matthias, a Macedonian youth who slips away to join Alexander’s corps as it treks across Afghanistan on its way to India. A raw recruit, he is taken under the wing of Flag, a grizzled sergeant who sees him grow in military experience and in cynicism. He buys a slave girl who later becomes his lover, but he learns that this harsh desert land, where even women and children are enemies, is totally alien, and can never accept him. After the excitement of Pressfield's Gates of Fire, this The story of Matthias, a Macedonian youth who slips away to join Alexander’s corps as it treks across Afghanistan on its way to India. A raw recruit, he is taken under the wing of Flag, a grizzled sergeant who sees him grow in military experience and in cynicism. He buys a slave girl who later becomes his lover, but he learns that this harsh desert land, where even women and children are enemies, is totally alien, and can never accept him. After the excitement of Pressfield's Gates of Fire, this book disappoints, though it’s not a total failure. Matthias’ growth from a tyro who fails to kill a trussed prisoner and cuts his own leg instead, vomiting, into a vet who has seen it all is handled well. And the sharp, sudden brutality of it all --- the mass slaughter of the female prisoners, the gory battles --- is of course shown in all its disturbing glory. But it seems Pressfield tried too hard to draw parallels between Alexander’s wars and the current Iraq war, and while he may have a general point, it’s out of place in a historical novel and the plot and characterization suffer as a result. And it may be that the drama suffers from the scope of the book being too vast; instead of focusing, or even climaxing, on one battle or area, “the Afghan campaign” is just too large for what Pressfield is trying to do. Still, there’s no denying that this book is packed with entertaining and suspenseful scenes, and it’s a highly enjoyable read. I’m just not entirely sure it works as a whole.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    The story of Alexander the Great's army's afghan campaign told from a solider's point of view. The tactics and strategies of the battles and the story of the clashing cultures that held Alexander's army there so long are well worth reading. But, the true life of the story is in the solider's experience of the land, privations, and challenges of army life on campaign. Parts read just like cherry-garrard's worst journey in the world's account of the antarctic marches the endured under Scott's expe The story of Alexander the Great's army's afghan campaign told from a solider's point of view. The tactics and strategies of the battles and the story of the clashing cultures that held Alexander's army there so long are well worth reading. But, the true life of the story is in the solider's experience of the land, privations, and challenges of army life on campaign. Parts read just like cherry-garrard's worst journey in the world's account of the antarctic marches the endured under Scott's expeditions. The solider's voice has a ring of honesty and realism to it that is sometimes missing from military historical fiction. Alexander is present in the story, but his character doesn't dominate or overwhelm. I could not put this down and looked forward to turning the next page during the entire read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eduardo

    if you want to know about the futility and brutality of war in present day Afghanistan read this book. This historical fiction book tells the story of a young recruit as he eagerly enlist on the army of Alexander the Great. Anxious for action, he, like all young recruits before their first battle, expects glory and riches, alas! those dreams quickly dissappers as he barely survives the first battle, and has to kill a human being in order to live. As the one-year campaing moves to three, four yea if you want to know about the futility and brutality of war in present day Afghanistan read this book. This historical fiction book tells the story of a young recruit as he eagerly enlist on the army of Alexander the Great. Anxious for action, he, like all young recruits before their first battle, expects glory and riches, alas! those dreams quickly dissappers as he barely survives the first battle, and has to kill a human being in order to live. As the one-year campaing moves to three, four years, the young recruit is a seasoned soldier that has developed respect for the enemy he fights at the same time he forgets those old dreams and focus on the survival of his own and those of his comrades. The war never really ends, the truce comes as Alexander marries the daughter of one of the most powerful chieftains in the region; the chieftain will continue the war in exchange of power and gold while Alexander moves to India, for more land and certain death.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lea Ann

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have been a fan of Pressfield's since I read Gates of Fire around ten years ago. The Afghan Campaign had the same feel and pace and I enjoyed reading it. Pressfield does a good job mixing tactics and historical information with the personal story of Matthias - a somewhat naive young infantry troop who is unprepared for the type of war Alexander the Great has has to fight in Afghanistan. The parallels to today's challenges in the same theater are interesting. The plot reads a little like Farewe I have been a fan of Pressfield's since I read Gates of Fire around ten years ago. The Afghan Campaign had the same feel and pace and I enjoyed reading it. Pressfield does a good job mixing tactics and historical information with the personal story of Matthias - a somewhat naive young infantry troop who is unprepared for the type of war Alexander the Great has has to fight in Afghanistan. The parallels to today's challenges in the same theater are interesting. The plot reads a little like Farewell to Arms in the sense that there is a girl and a baby and in the end just a soldier. That part struck a little too hard and I think that just has to do with the baby at my own home. I don't know if I'll ever be able to read those types of plots again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    This is not a book I would normally have picked for myself to read but that’s part of the fun of joining in book group reads, to find the unexpected and expand your horizons. The first person point of view of an average soldier’s life in Alexander the Greats army was interesting enough but, not at all unexpectedly, not particularly thrilling for me. I never quite got invested in the characters, despite the first person view; I wasn’t quite drawn into the story either. There is no doubt that the au This is not a book I would normally have picked for myself to read but that’s part of the fun of joining in book group reads, to find the unexpected and expand your horizons. The first person point of view of an average soldier’s life in Alexander the Greats army was interesting enough but, not at all unexpectedly, not particularly thrilling for me. I never quite got invested in the characters, despite the first person view; I wasn’t quite drawn into the story either. There is no doubt that the author knows the military, its attitudes and workings, but this book didn’t manage to capture the humanism that makes a story like this great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Really bad. The "modern language" was so badly done I kept waiting for the author to slip and write "dude". While the war history itself may be accurate, it was swallowed up in a average-Joe's fantasy of blood and loose women (this is a public website). I regret having read what shape the blood pooled in and dredging through characters conveniently killed off so the main character doesn't have to emotionally deal with them. So glad I can return this to the library and never see it again. Really bad. The "modern language" was so badly done I kept waiting for the author to slip and write "dude". While the war history itself may be accurate, it was swallowed up in a average-Joe's fantasy of blood and loose women (this is a public website). I regret having read what shape the blood pooled in and dredging through characters conveniently killed off so the main character doesn't have to emotionally deal with them. So glad I can return this to the library and never see it again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    I enjoyed this novel.

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