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Product details

  • Audio CD: 9 pages
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks; Unabridged Audiobook 9 CDs edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140749418X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407494180
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 14.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,006,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Pressfield is a bestselling historical novelist whose books include the classic Gates of Fire, Alexander: The Virtues of War The Afghan Campaign and Killing Rommel. He lives in Los Angeles.

His official website is www.stevenpressfield.com

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Review

A provocative military-political thriller... propelled by almost relentless action. Vivid and exciting... a thinking person's techno-thriller. --The Wall Street Journal

Pressfield has an impressive grasp of military history and an even more impressive ability to convey his passion in print. His battlefield scenes rank with the most convincing ever written. --USA Today on Tides of War

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Neil P55 on 4 Aug 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
For those of you like me, who thought the "Gates of Fire" was one of the best historical novels ever written and that "Killing Rommel" was a cracking good read, you might be a little disappointed with the latest Pressfield novel.

The book portrays a vision of the future as a mixture of big oil companies, politics and small mercenary armies. So far so good, but then the main protagonist takes it upon himself to explain to the reader, in 'long-hand', who those power brokers are and how the world has, and continues to change under their political and military influence.

I don't do this often but I gave up on this book three quarters of the way through. In short, I found the book dull. The characters are two dimensional, you just don't care about them, there's no suspense and no thrills. It's more akin to a well researched governmental report on future global power players that the author has struggled to translate into an entertaining novel. Lots of American patriotism, lots of merged companies (Fox/BBC ...), lots of military acronyms, but just no soul.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J.R.Hartley VINE VOICE on 26 Jun 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll start by saying I have read two books by Steven Pressfield prior to this one and loved both. Gates Of Fire remains one of my favourite books and regularly encourage others to do the same, and also found Killing Rommel to be a gripping, if rather short, read. I therefore approached The Profession firm in the knowledge that Pressfield would again tell another geat tale of honour, brotherhood and military mayhem that makes the likes of Tom Clancy look like he is playing at it. Let's just say that Pressfield does not disappoint in this futureshock tale of a yet-to-be American Caesar in a world where the dominant forces are no longer national governments but where power rests in the hands of media and oil barons. Everything is here from full-blooded battles, scheming powermongers, deceit, murder and love in a blockbuster that has shades of George Orwell and Joseph Conrad. The military research is very impressive and the sheer scale and chutzpah of the novel will leave you in a spin. I ploughed through this book in less than 48 hours.

So why only 4 stars? Well, the main prlem for me was the military research is just a bit too much. I'm all for a detailed explanation of military tactics and descriptions of action sequences, but Pressfield has once again litters his work (just as he did in Kilig Rommel) with entire paragraphs that amount to little more than lists of military hardware. More than that, his descriptions are peppered with acronyms and serial numbers that mean nothing to a non-military person like me. In short, whole paragraphs are pretty tedious. While not doubting Pressfield has spent a lot of time and energy getting the military details just right, some of his other reserch is simply woeful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First posted on Amazon.com on 9/06/2012

Another reviewer on Amazon.com has already spotted the several dimensions that this book explores: techno-thriller, military science fiction, a cautionary tale of the future, and, in particular, of America's future more than anything else, but also the personal story of a "lost" soldier who becomes a 21th century mercenary and is torn between what is left of his ideals and his deep sense of loyalty towards his brothers in arms and his commander officer.

The last theme is one that Pressfield has already got us rather used to. You find it in particular in his "Tides of War" and his "The Afghan Campaign". There are even a couple of hints to these pieces of historical fiction in this one, for instance the passing reference to a sergeant named Telamon, from Akadia in the USA - the very same place and name as that of a mercenary solddier that pops up here and there in Pressfiled's novels taking place in Antiquity.

Another familiar element is Pressfield's ability to make the story gripping and ripping, so that, at least at times, it seems almost "real" for the reader, especially for the action and combat scenes. Although, to be honest, I am no soldier, so I could probably not tell to what extent the story is plausible anyway, the way the operations are presented correspond to what I would imagine them to be like.

What is more original for Pressfield, is the story which takes place in 2032, with numerous "flash-backs" of events that have taken place since 2016. The period has seen the rise of Private Military Companies (PMCs) - mercenaries in other words - to the extent that these - and one of them in particular - have become a major force capable of fielding tens of thousands of soldiers.
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By S. Warren on 7 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the other reviewers, I have absolutely loved previous works by Mr Pressfield, Gates of fire is, for me, the best in the genre. However, this book is a bit of a leap forward by the author to the near future, set in both the USA and middle east. It centres round the assumption that in future, wars will be paid for directly by the oil companies. I think that the book starts well, and has some decent characters. the main protagonist is interesting as is his mentor and god, the general. The problem with the book for me was that the story just doesn't flow that well. while liking the lead, you never actually love or care for him that much and that is what, in my opinion, Mr Pressfield does best, making you will on his heroes to either victory or a glorious death. Still worth a read, and still a good book for his fans, but I hope next time we can see Mr Pressfield going back to the past and return to what he does best!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 102 reviews
40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Non-spoiler - gripping tale of the near future 14 April 2011
By scot16897 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Profession is a book about a projected future of America and warfare, as told from the perspective of a soldier and his connection to his commanding officer.

In the near-future, military responses to terrorism are increasingly waged by the rules (or lack thereof) of the local combatants, rather than the Western rules of war. Corporations ascend in influence and power as nation-states decline.

Unrest in the Middle East and other oil producing regions continues as the world powers position themselves to ensure continued resources.

Against this backdrop, Steven Pressfield tells the story of Gen. Salter, a military commander who falls from grace and becomes as a mercenary commander. The perspective for the story is that of a soldier who has long served under Gen. Salter, and is so close as to be considered a son of the General.

Because the story is told from the soldier's perspective, the thoughts and motivations of Gen. Salter are often hidden from the reader, and the reader is a witness to the events, a method Pressfield employed in the terrific "Gates of Fire."

This book is an interesting projection on where the world could go in the next 25 years in a global economy competing for dwindling resources and with traditional American concepts of life contrasting with the very different perspective and motives of those in other countries, particularly tribal cultures and developing countries.

At it heart, this book is a story about the recognition that the traditional American values are challenged by the changing times, economy, and exposure to other cultures.

I will say that I found the ending a bit choppy, but as you can see, it was not such a detraction that I lowered the rating I gave the book.

Pressfield, who has written a number of books on classical military history, tells his similarly classical story in the near future, but does so in the readable, interesting style that recalls his best books.

This is worth your read.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Great on details, but the storyline seemed to lack momentum... 12 Jun 2011
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked up Steven Pressfield's latest novel, The Profession, on Amazon Vine this month. It sounded like a great premise... move 20 years into the future and look at war as a function of big business. Buy your mercenary forces and leave the fighting to the "professionals." The imagery and settings were excellent, but the storyline seemed to wander. I was having problems with the "so what" aspect of the book...

The overall plot involves a major conflict in the Middle East (where else?) which has the whole world trying to figure out exactly what and who is driving the conflict and bankrolling Force Insertion, which is the top mercenary business on the globe. A disgraced American general, James Sather, is running that show, and his overall goal isn't necessarily the same as the people and leaders who hired him. As the conflict escalates and unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sather's actions are designed to put him into a position of ultimate power, erasing nearly 300 years of checks and balances. The narrator of the story, Gent Gentilhomme, a soldier serving under the general, is the only person who is in a position to do something about it, and he's not entirely sure as to what the correct path should be.

From the perspective of the detail of the story, Pressfield is excellent. The writing is gritty and hard, and it matches the type of action I'd expect to see in a war story. It was as if I had been dropped into the middle of a conflict. The storyline didn't seem to have that same action and momentum, however. I was having a hard time trying to understand why things were happening and where the story was going. I didn't have the feeling that I had to keep turning pages to find out what would happen next. Even once the end game had played out, my general feeling was "meh"...

The Profession was an interesting read for imagining what war might be like in the future. But as a story, it lacked the spark that made it a compelling novel.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
Payment: Free
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Works well as a cautionary tale, not so well as a thriller 18 April 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Profession is simultaneously a science fiction novel (to the extent that it's set in the near future), a military novel (although most of the fighting is done by private armies), and a political thriller. The novel works best as a cautionary tale; as a representative of any (or all) of those genres, it's lacking.

In the 2032 imagined by Steven Pressfield, private mercenary forces, primarily serving foreign governments and multinational petroleum companies, are all over the Middle East. Gilbert "Gent" Gentilhomme, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, works for Force Insertion, the largest of the private armies. Told in the first person from Gent's perspective, the story begins with furious action as Gent leads a team of mercenaries on a rescue mission. Gent's next mission (in Tajikistan) is assigned by the CEO of Force Insertion, James Salter, a former general and current narcissist who has an agenda beyond that of Force Insertion's customer base.

Cautionary tales can make compelling fiction (1984 is an enduring example); The Profession misses that mark. About a third of the way in, the action halts so that Pressfield can explain the rise of private armies. A longish chapter in the middle recounts Gent's African exploits while he was still a Marine and explains Salter's military downfall -- a Heart of Darkness diversion that contributes little to the plot and adds to character development in only a superficial way. This is followed by another longish chapter that relates the (future) history of the Middle East which, like the (past) history, has a lot to do with war, oil, and American and Saudi politics. All of this mood-deadening exposition acts as a drag on a story that depends on action to justify its billing as a thriller. As a warning of a possible future, these chapters could form the foundation of a great essay; they just don't integrate well into the novel.

The book becomes interesting when Salter decides to engage in a rather aggressive act of nation-building. Salter is a truly scary dude. He describes himself as a warrior who worships "the god of strife," a fighter who strides "into harm's way for no cause, no dream, no crusade, but only for the striding itself and for the comrades at my side." This is the kind of megalomaniac who starts wars solely because he likes war. Whether Salter's actions (and, more importantly, the reactions in the United States and the rest of the world) are plausible is questionable, but this is a work of fiction; I won't downgrade it for telling an unlikely story. I will, however, criticize Pressfield for creating characters who are stereotypes and for killing the novel's momentum in the middle chapters. I liked the beginning and the ending (it avoided the predictable finish that I was dreading) and I appreciated the story's cautionary value, but as a novel The Profession has serious problems. I would give The Profession 3 1/2 stars if Amazon made that option available.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Profession 17 Jun 2011
By N. Beitler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For fans of Steven Pressfield, expect something a bit different in this book. Unlike his previous historical fiction books such as Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae or Last of the Amazons or Killing Rommel: A Novel, this time Pressfield takes us the global battlefields of the near future. Meticulously researched (as you would expect from Mr. Pressfield), this scarily-realistic book takes a look at a future that may yet be: one in which wars are not only fought by national armies, but also by mercenary armies hired by mega-corporations to further their own agendas.

I have to admit, compared to other Pressfield novels,this book took a bit longer for me to really get into. For the first several chapters, I was wondering where the book was going. The longer I read it the more engaging it became, though. As I rocketed along the roller coaster ride to the finale, I was sad to see the book end, and that's always a compliment to the author.

The book is a good read, and I'd categorize this tale as a definite "man-book." I'd recommend it to any guys who enjoy reading military fiction and to fans of Mr. Pressfield's other novels. Just be aware that this is going to be a different sort of tale than Mr. Pressfield's other novels.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Next Wars 16 Jun 2011
By Eileen Granfors - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am one of Pressfield's original fans as I loved "Gates of Fire." I am enthralled with the ancient world, especially the Spartans. But I found that even a book such as "Killing Rommel," in Pressfield's deft hands interests me.

The same goes for "The Profession." I don't normally read Tom Clancy or John LeCarre or even science fiction. Yet, in "The Profession," Pressfield takes us into the future, 2032. His protagonist, Gent, is a mercenary soldier in a world without armies, only mercenaries who take on the rabble armies of various exploding flash points of political and economic violence.

Gent travels from Africa, where atrocities are carried out, to the Middle East, where a man can love and feed his enemy before shooting him in the head.

The action is fast and furious, Pressfield connects with the world that may be by placing us in a world much too much like our own, especially in these weeks after our own strike force hit Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. It is almost prescient in its worldview.

This is an unsettling read of a future that could hit us and hit us hard.
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