Customer Reviews for

The Afghan Campaign

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2006

    Why Afghanistan Remains Untamed

    Having read most of Steven Pressfield's works, I was eager to read yet another well-presented piece of historical fiction and re-live the past while doing so. What I got this time in the 'The Afghan Campaign' was the darkest and most unpromising war novel devoid of any glory or grandeur usually associated with historical fiction. The main characters in the story are as easy to relate to as any in Pressfield's books, but the introduction to their private lives are the most limited ever. We are ushered into the 'second phase' of Alexander's Conquest with a finality that, at first, seems almost rushed and then it gradually becomes clear that this is probably deliberate. In fact, the beginning of the book is in many ways like the start of a boxing match, with both opponents fresh and aiming for a 'quick kill'. What follows is as powerful as any of Pressfield's novels and as educational, if not more. The main theme, apart from the convoluted military tactics required to deal with counter-insurgency ops, is the clash of civilisations inherent in any involvement in this region and the parallels with the West's modern adventure in Afghanistan are always implied, lying just under the surface. The ending, despite the fact that it is predictable, is heart-rending and this is mainly due to the sense of inevitability that permeates the story from the very start. Through his understanding of ancient history, Pressfield does a magnificent job in analyzing why each and every attempt to conquer Afghanistan has failed. Ominously, he also foretells the ending of Western involvement in our times, despite the use of modern technology. In a nutshell, keeping Afghanistan under one¿s control requires continuous expenditure of human and material resources that in the medium term simply cannot be justified. The only viable alternative is to descend into barbarity and de-populate the area to such an extent that it would be tantamount to true genocide. An eye-opener of a book if there ever was one.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Past is Prologue in Afghanistan

    In 'The Afghan Campaign,' Steven Pressfield holds up the war-ravaged past as a mirror to our equally war-ravaged present. Matthias, a young Greek seeking glory and opportunity, signs up with the army of Alexander the Great. But the Persian Empire has fallen, and the days of conventional battles where everyone can instantly tell friend from foe are over. Alexander next plans to conquer India, but first he must pacify its gateway--Afghanistan. Here, for the first time, the Macedonians meet an enemy unlike any other. 'Here the foe does not meet us in pitched battle,' warns Alexander. 'Even when we defeat him, he will not accept our dominion. He comes back again and again. He hates us with a passion whose depth is exceeded only by his patience and his capacity for suffering.' Matthias learns this early. In his first raid on an Afghan village, he's ordered to execute a helpless prisoner. When he hesitates, he's brutalized until he strikes out with his sword--and then botches the job. But, soon, exposed to an unending series of atrocities--committed not only by the enemy but by himself and his comrades--he finds himself transformed. It is not a transformation he expected--or relishes. He agonizes over the gap between the ideals he meant to embrace when he became a soldier--and the brutalities that have drained him of everything but a grim determination to survive at any cost. Pressfield, a former Marine himself, repeatedly contrasts how noncombatants see war as glorified child's-play with how those who must fight it actually experience it. He creates an extraordinary exchange between Costas, an ancient-world version of a CNN war correspondent, and Lucas, a soldier whose morality is outraged at how Costas and his ilk routinely prettify the barbarous. And we know the truth of this exchange immediately. For we know there are brutalities inflicted by our troops on the enemy--and atrocities inflicted by the enemy upon our soldiers--that never make the headlines, let alone the TV cameras. We know, though we don't wish to admit, that, decades from now, thousands of these men will carry horrific memories to their graves. These memories will remain sealed from public view, allowing their fellow but unblooded Americans to sleep peacefully, unaware of the price that others have paid on their behalf. Like the Macedonians (who call themselves 'Macks'), our own soldiers find themselves serving in an all-but-forgotten land among a populace whose values could not be more alien from our own if they came from Mars. Instincitvely, they turn to one another--not only for physical security but to preserve their last vestiges of humanity. Pressfield is never more eloquent than when he puts into the words of his war-weary veteran, Lucas, the following: 'Never tell anyone except your mates. Only you don't need to tell them. They know. They know you. Better than a man knows his wife, better than he knows himself. They're bound to you and you to them, like wolves in a pack. It's not you and them. You are them. The unit is indivisible. One dies, we all die.' Put conversely: One lives, we all live. Pressfield has reached into the past to reveal fundamental truths about the present that most of us could probably not accept if contained in a modern-day memoir. These truths take on an immediate poignancy owing to our currently being at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But they will remain just as relevant decades from now, when our young soldiers of today are old and retired. This book could be--and has been--described as a sequel to Pressfield's 'The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great,' which appeared in 2004. But it isn't. It is, in fact, its polar-opposite. 'Virtues' showcased the brilliant and luminous (if increasingly dark and explosive) personality of Alexander the Great, whose soaring rhetoric inspired men to hurl themselves into countless battles on his behalf. But 'Afghan' thrusts us directly into th

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Awesome

    Great read. Cant put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An attempt to replicate current events in the 4th century BCE

    Not nearly as good a book as "Killing Rommel". The reason, perhaps, is best illustrated by an effusive review suggesting that the experience of Alexander's soldiers provided a cautionary tale for our own involvement in Afghanistan. What rubbish! Where does he think the author drew his material? The accounts of Alexander's campaign's are sparse, and border on panegyric - there are no contemporary accounts of the common soldier's experience. Oh, plus ca change, no doubt, as it applies to basic human motivation, but culture most definitely changes. It is as unlikely that the experiences of Pressfield's protagonist mirrored our current experience in Afghanistan, as that Robert Graves's Claudius really thought like a 20th century Briton.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    Excellent, change around a few words and it would look like something from today's newspaper

    Cannot recommend it highly enough. Action, romance, excellent excellent. Loveble characters, bad ending, but still very good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    Really good book!

    One of the best books I have read! I Think that th author is excellent!

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  • Posted May 9, 2013

    i loved this book an the characters best ive read for it to be s

    i loved this book an the characters best ive read for it to be so short an gates of fire was also great i only wish he would make the stories longer like tides of war an lats of the amaazons

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Very exciting

    A real page turner

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Historical Fiction

    An excellent read. Pressfield brings his characters to life. Historical fiction at it's best.

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    Posted November 8, 2009

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    Posted March 16, 2013

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    Posted January 25, 2011

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    Posted September 10, 2011

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    Posted June 9, 2010

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted October 31, 2010

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    Posted September 3, 2010

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    Posted May 16, 2011

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