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The Afghan Campaign Hardcover – 1 Feb 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (1 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385610645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385610643
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,436 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

Product Description


"Pressfield's talent is awesome...The Afghan Campaign is an extraordinary work, an instant classic" (DAVID GEMMELL)

"An impressive scholar and gifted storyteller...the finest military writer alive" (STEPHEN COONTS)

"No one writes better historical fiction than Steven Pressfield" (VINCE FLYNN) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Thrilling historical novel evoking the madness, mayhem and sheer God-awfulness of Alexander the Great's campaign in Afghanistan - a timeless tale of men at war.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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 St. Crispin's Day speech 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.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By S. Warren on 5 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all of Pressfield's work and apart from Gates of Fire, and Last of the Amazons, I have to say, they have not lived up to the early promise of Gates of Fire. Alexander was a bit of a let down and Tides didn't live up to its billing.

The Afghan Campaign for me, reminded me what a really great author Mr. Pressfield is. I was hooked from the start right to the end and I think anyone should read this book and will feel better for having done so.

I hope his next works live up to this excellent book!

A must buy!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alyson BAILES on 10 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the second time Pressfield has touched on the career of Alexader the Great. The previous book, 'Alexander: The Virtues of War' was designed partly to defend Alexander against some of the more sensational imaginings of other writers, eg about his Oedipal tendencies. 'The Afghan Campaign' provides in the end a more satisfying vision because the consequences of Alexander's bent for attempting the impossible are seen from below, through the eyes of a rank-and-file Macedonian soldier; and the focus is on a campaign that essentially could not be won - any more than anyone else has been able to 'win' in Afghanistan since. Pressfield''s trademark descriptions of the harshness of warfare are here as usual, and there is a more detailed and touching story of heterosexual relations than usual at the novel's centre. However, for many the main fascination will be the many, accurate, and surely deliberate parallels with the issues faced (and errors made) by the Western coalition fighting in Afghanistan today.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of Steven Pressfiled's very best books, perhaps even his best, although readers (including myself) generally prefer his more accessible "Gates of Fire". Just like "Tides of War", this book is about the horrors of war. Unlike "Gates of Fire", there are no "heroes" here, just two simple Macedonian soldiers who struggle to survive against the odds, with the crossing of the Afghan mountains being particularly horrific. There is no undying glory or sense of a higher purpose either, as the whole campaign, probably Alexander's hardest of all, was fought with little to gain and against an ennemy that was impossible to really defeat.

This is where Pressfield is at his best when describing the feelings of the common soldiers dragged into a war that they do not understand and suffering and surviving an ordeal that seems largely unnecessary to begin with. Another strong point of his is the huge difference between the glorious and heroïc presentation of war, fighting for the "good cause", making a fortune through heroïc deeds and so one, and the grim and harsh realities where the newcomers are left on their own as they arrive, without even the basic equipment that they must scavenge and woth some of the veterans callously betting on how long they will survive (this piece comes in fact from the historical sources, if I remember correctly). However, this aspect, which is all about despair, perseverance and survival, is also the one that most readers have found difficult to warm up to. Most readers (myself included) want to read about heroïc deeds more than grim, despairing and harsh realities. In Gates of Fire, you had both. In the Afghan Campaign, only the latter remain.
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