Tides of War

Tides of War


By (author) Steven Pressfield

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Alcibiades - mercurial soldier and charismatic commander without peer on land and sea, a man whom fortune always favoured. Raised as a ward of Pericles, later a protege of Socrates, and compared to Achilles by the adoring Athenian masses, he was to become the key figure in the Peloponnesian War - the tumultuous 27-year civil war between Athens and Sparta that would devastate Greece in the last quarter of the 5th century BC. At the outset, for all his Spartan upbringing, Alcibiades remained loyal to Athens. But his popularity - and his arrogance - fuelled the bitter resentment of rivals who secured his death warrant on a charge of treason. Encouraged to flee for his life (and showing masterful pragmatism for which he joined the enemy, the Spartans, and went on to lead their legendary scarlet-cloaked ranks from one military triumph to the next. What became clear to the opposing states was that whoever had Alcibiades at the head of their army would control Greece. It was Aristophanes once wrote that Athenians 'love, hate and cannot do without him' and to the end, their glory and downfall were shared. Recounted by one Polemides, a seasoned soldier accused of assassinating the great leader, Tides of War is an epic, thrilling retelling of ancient, near-forgotten history. From devastating battles on land and sea to the vicious political infighting and back-stabbing in the city of Athena herself, Steven Pressfield again succeeds in bringing historical precision and human scale to those dark, dangerous times, and paints an extraordinary portrait of this remarkable man whose fortunes were to mirror the ebb and flow of the tides of war...

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Author information

Steven Pressfield is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War and Last of the Amazons. He lives in Los Angeles.

Review quote

"PRAISE FOR TIDES OF WAR: 'The very qualities that distinguish Ridley Scott's Gladiator are here in greater concentration...it is nigh unbeatable'" Amazon.co.uk "'Extraordinary...Pressfield produces an even greater spectacle - and, in its honest, incremental way, an even greater heart-tugger - than in his acclaimed tale of the battle of Thermopylae ...The political complexities between Sparta and Athens, not to mention the cultural competition between them, are handled with a clarity that enlightens and captivates the reader at once...On every page are colour, splendour, sorrow, the unforgiving details of battle, daily life, and of the fighter's lot. Unashamedly brilliant, epic, intelligent, and moving'" Kirkus Reviews "'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 - you can almost feel the slash of sword on skin and sense the shattering mix of panic, bravery, blood lust and despair'" USA Today "'Every inch the equal of its predecessor' Publishing News 'A brilliant evocation of an heroic age...which sets alight the imagination and which thrills the soul with the trumpet tone of battle'" Northern Echo "'Brings the destruction of ancient Athens vividly to life...Steven Pressfield has literally bookended the golden age of classic Greece...He continues to excel in depth of research, humanization of antiquity and power of description'" Los Angeles Times

Editorial reviews

At the end of the fifth century BC, Alcibiades was one of the most famous people in the world, which was dominated by ancient Greece. Maverick general in the Peloponnesian War and charismatic statesman, he used his skills as an orator in the same way as a modern politician would manipulate the media. In this follow up to Gates of Fire, his best-selling novel of warfare in Sparta, Pressfield tells the ultimately tragic story of Alcibiades. Seen through the eyes of Polemides, a long time comrade accused, at the start of the novel, of his assassination, Alcibiades is kept at a distance from the reader, retaining his glamour and mystery in spite of telling glimpses of cruelty and ruthlessness. Polemides is a complex character, but his narration does not shrink from harrowing descriptions of the vicissitudes of war and the crudity of soldiers' lives and the world of Socrates and his followers is brought to life convincingly. Four pages of maps and a glossary of Greek words are helpful in taking in the sweep of this novel. With its many-layered narrative and vast cast of characters with unfamiliar names, this is not always an easy read but well worth the effort. (Kirkus UK)