The Alexander from the movie is a far cry from the one in The Virtues of
War. This guy is sure of himself, gallant, a deep thinker, and motivated by a sense
of his place in history. Loyal, but not in that way. Fair to his men and an
admirer of women, the Alexander that Steven Pressfield tells about is one that the reader
would want to be friends with—or to at least have on their side when the chips were
Pressfield paints a picture of Alexander based in part on documents
from his reign, but he also uses things that are not exactly fact. This synthesis of
fact, supposition, and outright fiction lets him paint a very human picture of the
legendary ruler. Alexander has been poked and prodded for centuries because of his
accomplishments as a leader and explorer. So many books have been written that it seemed
impossible to come with something original to hook today’s reader.
creative twist that makes this book so good is that it's written in first person. This
pseudo autobiography is more of a stroll down memory lane by Alexander. He's telling
the story of his feats, being recited by the man himself to his young and impressionable
brother-in-law, Itanes. Set at the start of the closing act of Alexander’s life, it goes
back to his training as a boy to become a warrior and successor to his father, and it
leads up to his army refusing to keep fighting.
The Virtues of War
is a great book that pulls the reader into Alexander’s powerful persona. There are times
when the author plays a bit fast and loose with the historical facts, but he admits that
in the beginning, so he can be forgiven for it. I’d recommend this as a book for the guy
who enjoys a life that's well lived.