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The Afghan Campaign

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,707 ratings  ·  265 reviews
2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . .

The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 b.c.
In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Doubleday Books (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  3,707 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Scott  Hitchcock
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of historical war fiction and grimdark fantasy

It's somewhat amazing to think that Cyrus the Great, Darius of Persia, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, The Mughal Empire, The Sikh Empire, The British Empire, The Soviets and latest the Americans and Nato have all tried to tame this wild hard land.

This book deals with the time of Alexander. It's amazing the parallels between how the Afghan's fought a force both superior in manpower, conventional "advanced" war theory and technology to a standstill by knowing the terrain and using it
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
A solid piece of social historical fiction (the Alltagsgeschichte of Afghanistan?). Pressfield's fiction manages well to express ideas and concepts that would be more difficult to tell in straigth-forward nonfiction, history or even memoir formats. Pressfield straddles the (often fine) line between warrior and poet, East and West, old and new Afghanistan, and the best and worst of human nature. Like Killing Rommel, _The Afghan Campaign_ uses minor/line/non-heroic characters to retell a ...more
David Eppenstein
This book was rather strange. I do not know if it was just a bad book or a good story badly written. It is a historical fiction and I am unfamiliar with the author though from a GR check he does seem to be an accomplished professional. As an accomplished author I am at a loss to explain the apparent sloppiness of this book. For a historical fiction to meet my approval the story must mesh with the historical event(s) depicted. In this book the history concerns the invasion of Afghanistan by ...more
rating: 3.5/5

I have mixed feelings about this novel, it doesn't compare to Pressfield's Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae but has some great moments, descriptions, and characters despite a major flaw that annoyed me to no end.

I'll start with what I loved, mainly Shinar. It is so rare that historical fiction with battles and warriors has such a realistic portrayal of women in history that are strong but still within their prescribed culture. Many times portrayals of women
Sep 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mature readers ages 15 and up
Stephen Pressfield has garnered laurels for his ability to describe the utter brutality of ancient warfare and his descriptions of battles fought during the campaign of Alexander the Great in Afghanistan in his novel "The Afghan Campaign" are as wrenching as those depicted in Pressfield's "Gates of Fire".

Told from the perspective of a common soldier rather than from Alexander's viewpoint or the viewpoint of one of Alexander's commanders, "The Afghan Campaign" provides the reader the opportunity
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
I love Steven Pressfield. I've read the majority of his books and have loved them all. Those books had a lot of emotional impact. Sadly, The Afghan Campaign does not.

The Afghan Campaign is a lot more technical. Pressfield's previous books dealt with the same material but for whatever reason, this one goes into more details when it comes to weaponry, occupation, fighting, campaigns, and everything else it is to be a soldier. Whenever there's a part in the story that would get emotional, it's told
Clif Hostetler
This historical novel is about Alexander the Great's invasion of Afghanistan in 330 B.C. It's the one place where Alexander's army met with less than total success. More than once they invaded an area only to learn that their enemy had mysteriously appeared in their rear. This was frustrating to an army that knew they were the best in the world and were used to conquering any force that confronted them. This book is an amplification of one of the chapters of the book, The Virtues of War: A Novel ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is about a soldier in the time of Alexander the Great of Macedon, around 330 BC. Alexander the Great has conquered everywhere using standard tactics of drawing out his enemy and defeating it on the battlefield. And he has conquered the Persian empire, the greatest in the world. And, on the way to the riches of India, lay the Hindu Kush, present day Afghanistan.

The Afghan Campaign is written from the point of view of a new soldier. During the war against the Persians Matthias joins the
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have come to know this man whom, before, I regarded more with awe and fear than respect. I see the whole of him now. He is a soldier in the noblest sense of the word. Tough, selfless, long-suffering.

Story of a young man who enters the service of Alexander the Great's army. Pressfield does a great job of weaving the narrative between pure historical facts and the story of Matthias, a young idealistic man who signs on to serve with his friend Lucas. From the beginning as raw recruits, through
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
A really interesting book by Steven Pressfield. This is the second book of his that I have read and am hooked. He has been called an expert on ancient warfare and I believe it. This also reads like a history book. He does great character study and development while weaving in historical movements and happenings. I sometimes get caught up in wondering if things were as advanced as he makes them seem in that time but then remember that he has done far more research than me on the subject.

May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started this book on a recommendation. Actually on numerous recommendations as I've been hearing about Steven Pressfield and his historic novels for a while. In other words, I started this without knowing anything more than the title and an assumption it would take place in Afghanistan.

Well, I was right that it took place in Afghanistan. My guesses about Russian or current occupation were way off, but strangely pertinent. This was Alexander's push to the East in expanding his empire.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it liked it
When I saw the title The Afghan Campaign, my first thought was which Afghan Campaign - 2001-2014 or 1978-1989 or 1838-1842 or ... To paraphrase Monty Python, I didn't expect the Macedonian invasion.

Perhaps that is the main point of this book, that no matter how much things change in the rest of the world, things haven't changed much for fighting in Afghanistan.

This book follows the career of a young Macedonian recruit fighting as a dragoon in Alexander's Afghan campaign. It describes in detail
Great book! Steven Pressfield has a unique gift for writing historical/military fiction. He seamlessly blended one soldier's tale with that of the entire campaign without having one overshadow the other. Probably my favorite aspect of this book is that the only difference between the way Alexander the Great and the Afghans fight compared to our modern day war in Afghanistan is the weapons used. I thought that was pretty fascinating considering the amount of time that has lapsed since the ...more
Anthony Ryan
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A modernist approach to depicting ancient warfare. Pressfield's story of a young Macedonian warrior embroiled in Alexander the Great's conquest of what is today called Afghanistan has more in common with a Vietnam war memoir than a poetic epic. Pressfield doesn't flinch from the brutality of war waged primarily with edged weapons but it's the inescapable parallels to contemporary troubles that are most striking: Afghanistan, it seems, has never been an easy place to invade.
Nick Lloyd
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is the second book of his I have read, and I've come to accept the fact that I just don't like Pressfield. The topics are interesting, which makes me want to like it, but the dialogue seems phony.
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Afghan 330 BC or Afghan 2004 AD?
You can feel the sweat drip down the neck of Matthais, the young warrior in Alexander's army, as awaits the attack.
His fear is physical - you can taste it, smell it.
Pressfield is a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading more of his books.

Arun Divakar
The man who at less than 30 years of age had carved out an empire sprawling halfway across the world, the man at the statue of whose feet Julius Caesar is said to have wept thinking that he at that age had not accomplished even half of what this giant of a man could : Alexander the Great. Myths surround him, historians dub him one of the greatest generals who ever lived and one theatre of war that took him by surprise was Afghanistan. I have read in some other work that one of Alexander's battle ...more
Apr 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction, war
The story of Matthias, a Macedonian youth who slips away to join Alexander’s corps as it treks across Afghanistan on its way to India. A raw recruit, he is taken under the wing of Flag, a grizzled sergeant who sees him grow in military experience and in cynicism. He buys a slave girl who later becomes his lover, but he learns that this harsh desert land, where even women and children are enemies, is totally alien, and can never accept him.

After the excitement of Pressfield's Gates of Fire, this
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The story of Alexander the Great's army's afghan campaign told from a solider's point of view. The tactics and strategies of the battles and the story of the clashing cultures that held Alexander's army there so long are well worth reading. But, the true life of the story is in the solider's experience of the land, privations, and challenges of army life on campaign. Parts read just like cherry-garrard's worst journey in the world's account of the antarctic marches the endured under Scott's ...more
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you want to know about the futility and brutality of war in present day Afghanistan read this book. This historical fiction book tells the story of a young recruit as he eagerly enlist on the army of Alexander the Great. Anxious for action, he, like all young recruits before their first battle, expects glory and riches, alas! those dreams quickly dissappers as he barely survives the first battle, and has to kill a human being in order to live. As the one-year campaing moves to three, four ...more
This is not a book I would normally have picked for myself to read but that’s part of the fun of joining in book group reads, to find the unexpected and expand your horizons.
The first person point of view of an average soldier’s life in Alexander the Greats army was interesting enough but, not at all unexpectedly, not particularly thrilling for me. I never quite got invested in the characters, despite the first person view; I wasn’t quite drawn into the story either.
There is no doubt that the
Brian Bova
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned
Another great book from Pressfield. Very well detailed with excellent side stories pertaining to Alexander. A+++++
Jennifer (JC-S)
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
I enjoyed this novel.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall I enjoyed reading this book although it was far from flawless. The descriptions of ancient warfare, of how they moved soldiers and equipment and food throughout Persia and Afghanistan were remarkable. The perils of navigating the Hindu Kush in late winter were amazing to read. And the frustration of pursuing an enemy that was impossible to track in a nation that was fiercely independent tribes was so relevant to today's war in the same part of the world.

However, the character
What else can I say about Steven Pressfield that I have not already. Militarily as historical fiction goes he is hands down the greatest writer of his time. The Afghan Campaign is exactly on par with all his other masterpieces. A book you will not want to put down, one you wake up thinking about, and when you finish you automatically want another of his books to read. The story is of Alexander The Greats battles in Afghanistan told by Matthias, an young infantryman in his army. The stories told ...more
Daniel Kenefick
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another solid read by Pressfield. Although it does not rise to the heights of his other works, "The Afghan Campaign" takes the perspective of a footsoldier following Alexander the Great in his conquest of Afghanistan. It offers a smaller, more human story that is intentionally cautionary of our country's own overseas adventuring.

If you like this, Pressfield's "The Virtues of War" is an easy recommendation.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: interested in Central Asia, what life in the military is like
Shelves: military
This is about a soldier in the time of Alexander the Great of Macedon, around 330 BC. Alexander the Great has conquered everywhere using standard tactics of drawing out his enemy and defeating it on the battlefield. And he has conquered the Persian empire, the greatest in the world. And, on the way to the riches of India, lay the Hindu Kush, present day Afghanistan.

The Afghan Campaign is written from the point of view of a new soldier. During the war against the Persians Matthias joins the
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction Fans
Looking at the front cover, one would think this might be about the U.S. Afghan adventure. It isn't. It is a story of Alexander the Great's Afghan campaign which ran from the Summer of 330 BC to the Spring of 327 BC. Even in those days, a war in Afghanistan was difficult to win.

This story is told by a young soldier, Matthias, enlisted in Alexander's grand adventure to create an empire. He begins as a new recruit and three years later is a hardened, cynical veteran.

Much of the stuff written about
Robert L Sprowls
This book was interesting for its information on Muslim traditional attitudes and laws, as well has the history of Alexander's trek through Afghanistan. It also was good insight into the life of a soldier in Alexander's army. On the other hand, the story line was not interesting, and it was quite easy to get lost in the names of regions, etc.

Glad I read it, but not looking for a follow-up book of the following trek to India.
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I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943 to a Navy father and mother.

I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place
“These scars on my body,” Alexander declared, “were got for you, my brothers. Every wound, as you see, is in the front. Let that man stand forth from your ranks who has bled more than I, or endured more than I for your sake. Show him to me, and I will yield to your weariness and go home.” Not a man came forward. Instead, a great cheer arose from the army. The men begged their king to forgive them for their want of spirit and pleaded with him only to lead them forward.” 8 likes
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