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The Afghan Campaign: A Novel

The Afghan Campaign - Steven Pressfield This is the only one of Pressfield's books that I've read, and I was quite impressed. Knowing very little about Alexander the Great and Macedonian culture, I can't vouch for the book's accuracy, but it certainly brings the ancient world to life in a believable way. The military history is easy enough to understand even for those of us (like me) who aren't familiar with much military terminology, and the glossary in the back is helpful. The characters are what make this a five-star read, though; Pressfield certainly knows how to communicate a lot with a few words. I wound up emotionally involved in the story, and how often does that happen with military history?

A word on the political implications: yes, Pressfield is writing about a part of the world that's in the news a lot these days, but that certainly doesn't mean the book has to be or even should be read as a political statement. Yes, the protagonist Matthias and his companions discuss the situation in ancient Afghanistan (they're there for years, who wouldn't?), but it is a very different situation from the current one, a key point being that Alexander meant to conquer and rule. I'm sure it's not hard to find modern-day parallels if you're looking, but I think this book is intended to give readers insight into Afghanistan rather than to argue a political position. And most importantly, it's a great story.