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Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen (TEXT ONLY) [Kindle Edition]

Lucy Hughes-Hallett
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the author of ‘The Pike’ – winner of the 2013 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction – a compelling story of heroism told through eight famous lives that span from Achilles to Sir Francis Drake.

Beginning beneath the walls of Troy, ending in 1930s Europe, ‘Heroes’ is a compelling evocation of heroism through eight famous lives – Achilles, Odysseus, Alcibiades, Cato, El Cid, Francis Drake, Wallenstein and Garibaldi.

Not necessarily all good – sometimes quite the reverse – but all great, they possessed a charisma, a strength of will powerful enough to persuade those around them that they alone could do the incredible and unprecedented.

It is a story of morality and dictatorship; money and sorcery; seduction and mass hysteria.

Product Description


Praise for Lucy Hughes-Hallet’s first book, CLEOPATRA:

'Brilliant and discursive.'

'Fascinating, wide-ranging, highly-coloured, hugely energetic.'

'Lucy Hughes-Hallett writes very well, with a sometimes epigrammatic edge… Quite brilliantly she elicits from the publicised extravagance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's real-life, jet-set reprise of Antony and Cleopatra, an essay on the spiritual worth of prodigality, seen as a
Rabelaisian, Dionysian 'holy foolishness''

'A delightful book, written with grace and intelligence and brimming with entertaining illustrations and bizarre information'

About the Author

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of CLEOPATRA: HISTORIES, DREAMS AND DISTORTIONS which was published in 1990 to wide acclaim. CLEOPATRA won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. Lucy Hughes-Hallett reviews for the Sunday Times. This is her second book.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1060 KB
  • Print Length: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AP9644M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #340,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lucy Hughes-Hallett's latest book is The Pike - Gabriele d'Annunzio: Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War, which has won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Costa Biography Award, the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Paddy Power Political Biography of the Year Award.
Lucy's previous books are Heroes: A History of Hero Worship and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions (Fawcett Prize, Emily Toth Award). She has written on books, theatre and television for most of the leading British newspapers. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd & not entirely satisfying 27 Oct. 2013
By Mr M.R.Watkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER
As with another reviewer, I don't think the author could quite make up her mind what she was doing with this book. "It is rooted in ambivalence", she says in the foreword; although it's not what she means by the phrase, the result is a book whose purpose is not entirely clear. The very brief author's blurb says she is (or was at publication) a critic for the Sunday Times. That the other book listed therein is called "Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions", to go with "Heroes: Saviours, Traitors and Supermen" should tell you a great deal about her journalistic writing style. What qualifies her to write historical biographies, to psycho-analyze (she frequently lugs in the likes of Freud), is less clear.

Ultimately, while she's readable enough, the book is unsatisfying. Taking a couple of examples from the chapter on El Cid, in a paragraph talking of the "arduous training" of warriors, she finishes with "...vivdly embodies the terrifying gaiety of the easy-conscienced killer."; all very colourful. Also incorrect and, in fact, she contradicts herself a few pages later. First, she notes that most traditions hold the El Cid was a common man, the son of a miller, so he is unlikely to have spent his early life in martial training; secondly, when she speaks of El Cid capturing many knights & ransoming them, certainly common practice in the later Middle Ages & not consonant with labelling them all as "killers". The second example from that chapter is the repeated mention that pulling a man's beard is an "intolerable", "unforgivable" insult. That may or may not be true but, as with too many statements in the book, she gives no indication of where she gets this little tidbit from.

You're left wondering what the book is about.
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This was a very interesting book including information about some heroes I hadn't heard of and some I had but didn't know much about. Each of the heroes detailed (Achilles, Alcibiades, Cato, El Cid, Francis Drake, Wallenstein Garibaldi and Odysseus) is done so in a relatively detailed way, going through their lives and detailing the important events of their careers. Each hero is also presented in chronological order with comments on the similarities of each hero to those detailed previously. The exception to both of these things is the final hero Odysseus who is hardly mentioned throughout his section, the author seemingly using this section to pull together how various heroes changed after their death and how they were used and altered by previous generations. Altogether the book was very interesting and informative although it does tend to trail off towards the end.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better 25 Aug. 2005
By Steve
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author does not appear to have decided exactly what she wants to do here. The foreword says that these stories have relevance to modern times, and invites the reader to make parallels with current events. To me, this is an interesting but ultimately pointless exercise, as when writing of her nominated heroes (who were actually a fairly unpleasant bunch) Hughes-Hallett persists in making some often tenuous links between them and their achievements, discounting the fact that each was the product of their times, and as such, subject to the social structure of the day. As stand alone bigraphies, they would have been much better, but due to the writing style, in the end, I found for example, that when reading about Garibaldi, I did not want him compared to Achilles, Cato or others and skipped increasingly non-relevant passages. If you want to find out about each of the "heroes", I recommend you search for better books than this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically clarifying & entertaining 17 Jan. 2014
By Bahoover - Published on
If you enjoy reading accounts of individuals and historical circumstances that seem to be ever-repeating in man's history, then you should really enjoy this book. Hughes-Hallet has done an admirable job of consolidating a tremendous amount of historical reference material into an enlightening and entertaining book on the cult of personality. A good number of the historical presumptions of these individuals and how historians have rewritten their lasting images into less-than-historically-accurate myth are laid bare. Worth getting for the chapters on Sir Francis Drake and Wallenstein alone....
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