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Tides of War

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,267 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Brilliant at war, a master of politics, and a charismatic lover, Alcibiades was Athens’ favorite son and the city’s greatest general.

A prodigal follower of Socrates, he embodied both the best and the worst of the Golden Age of Greece. A commander on both land and sea, he led his armies to victory after victory.

But like the heroes in a great Greek tragedy, he was a victim o
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 28th 2001 by Bantam (first published April 4th 2000)
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Josh B-Chavez The ancient Greeks and Romans were on their way to becoming pantheists. The ancient stoics argued that everything, mundane and divine, emanates from a…moreThe ancient Greeks and Romans were on their way to becoming pantheists. The ancient stoics argued that everything, mundane and divine, emanates from a single universal substance (usually today called a monism), and that all life is connected together.

"Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things that exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the structure of the web."
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, iv. 40(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Apr 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently read about the classical age of Europe I found a gap in my knowledge of Ancient Greece, that of the Peloponnese wars that raged over a few decades in Greece & the surrounding Aegean Sea. The author Steven Pressfield has also been on my radar for a while too so a perfect combo?

Oh dear..... my first dnf of the year at around 90 pages.

The endless narrative (from two different persons) is jus not for me & was bored beyond believe with no dialogue/interaction......... I actually didn
The story is framed by Grandfather Jason's narration. His grandson asks who he thinks is the noblest of the Greeks.
"Alcibiades," Grandfather answers immediately.
Grandson asks who he thinks is his 'most unforgettable character'.
"Polemides, the son of Nicias...the man who assassinated Alcibiades," Grandfather replies.

Thus begins Grandfather's narration, which is italicized. It alternates with Polemides's narration, which is set in a regular serif typeface. Polemides, erstwhile captain of marin
Clif Hostetler
Tides of War is a good historical novel. However, it's for readers that can tolerate a complex narrative that describes events over the 27 year span of the Peloponnesian War (431 to 404 BCE). The story is told through three narrators; a man interviewing his grandfather Jason who in turn was a lawyer who many years earlier represented Polymides who was a close confidant of Alcibiades. In other words, it's a description of an interview in which an older person is describing earlier conversations w ...more
Carol Storm
Mar 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is an inspiring book. It's also a great big sloppy train wreck of a book!

Normally it's fun to trash a book as awful as this one, but TIDES OF WAR is a very special case. Steven Pressfield wrote GATES OF FIRE first, and it's a classic. GATES OF FIRE is all about Spartans, while TIDES OF WAR is all about Athenians. It's not hard to see why a conservative Vietnam War veteran like Pressfield intuitively grasps Spartan discipline and totally fails to capture the greatness of Athenian democracy.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This requires one to be a little bit of a history geek. It's an epic set in the Peloponnesian War. The narration style can be a bit confusing, and some momentum is lost by the end, but the characters are intriguing, and Pressfield's writing style falls somewhere comfortably between classical and modern. The chapter detailing the disastrous Athenian invasion of Sicily is mesmerizing, and pretty much worth the whole read. ...more

Read by George Guidell.

Peloponnesian Wars = Athens v Peloponnesian League fronted by Sparta

Starring Alcebiades on Death Row: From wiki: c. 450–404 BC), was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician...

...he was a tricky custome
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-greece
Brilliant historical fiction, obviously heavily researched combined with excellent storytelling. Glimpses of Socrates and early democracy give the book an intellectual aspect often not found in a war novel.
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not enough of best boy Theramenes but still good
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Bought this at a library cast-off yard sale, thinking it would fit into my genre of historical fiction which I can both enjoy and learn something from - however unlike most of that type of novel I've read, I knew almost nothing about the subject (the Peloponnesian Wars), having only covered it briefly in high-school history as another example of Sparta vs. Athens.

And at first, I thought I'd made a big mistake - it was a very slow start, with cumbersome language, difficult names of both people an
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not too big a fan of battle scenes in historical novels. So if they are among the best parts, it means either that they are awesome or that the book is just not that good. Sadly, it is the latter here.

Let's start with the things that are not so good: The main character Polemides is an utterly stereotypical tough-soldier-dude as they litter Bernard Cornwell's books and those of his epigones. The only thing more stereotypical is the portrayal of women in the book. Greek culture is reduced to
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
One of the most loved and hated at the same time personalities of Ancient Athens, Alcibiades, is the main character of this book. A great leader with great ambition. The book is fast paced and describes in an enjoyable manner the character of this man and his "achievements" through the "eyes" of his friend and co-warrior. It also provides a good context which help us understand why Athenians both hated and loved Alcibiades. And as Steven Pressfield always does even the fictional characters and e ...more
David Cuatt
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely the best fiction based on the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Well researched and grounded in history, with interesting characters galore. Alcibiades is one of my favorite historical figures and this book really brings him to life.
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I can honestly say that I gave the book a fair chance but I'm not likely to finish it, so there it is: a DNF. Utter disappointment after Gates of Fire. ...more
First-person narrative Sword and Sandal historical fiction centered around the historical figure Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War.

Greek/Macedonian Phalanx
Greek/Macedonian Phalanx

My audiobook was seven (7) hours long. Derek Jacobi was the narrator. A dead tree copy is 426 pages. The original US copyright was 2000.

Steven Pressfield is an American historical fiction and non-fiction writer. He has nine (9) historical fiction books published. Most are set in ancient times and have military themes. He also has the s
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Of the three Pressfield books I've read, I think this is my favorite, quite simply because of the character of Alcibiades. The idea that such a character may have existed in reality is an enticing and exciting thought, and his journey from Athenian general to Spartan advisor to Persian courtier reads like some sort of war time Jack Sparrow adventure set in ancient Greece. The character's tragic end felt very earned, as someone this larger than life can't simply retire, and the ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a real marathon, I've never looked up so many words for a book before. I feel it's a real accomplishment getting through it... but now I need something light! ...more
Andy Dollahite
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as good as Gates of Fire, but nevertheless enjoyable.
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. Also as a warning it is mostly told from a soldier's point of view and has all of the attendant language that you would expect from a soldier. But I really enjoyed this book. It is the story of the Peloponnesian War, the 27 year war between Sparta and Athens and specifically about the Athenian General Alcibiades. The story is told by one Jason who was a student of Socrates and a leading figure in Athenian political life who was also somewhat of ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Steven Pressfield tells the story of the heroes of war in ancient Greece with considerable skill and a sense for the detail and ambiance of the time in his book Tides of War. The story is told by Jason, who is defending both Socrates and Polemides, the man who is accused of murdering Alcibiades.
In many ways this tragic story is one of great insight regarding the role heroes of the day play in our lives. Alcibiades, a leading general of Greece, was vastly influential in the tides of the Peloponne
Briana Patterson
I may pick up this book again sometime. It doesn't seem bad. Rather, it's just very daunting. This book was one of the many we could pick off of a reading list for my college history class. The professor justified assigning this fictional story because it has a great amount of detail invested in what Greek culture, military and the experience of her people was like with incredible accuracy. And she's right. It's excellent in that regard.

What this book isn't for is the layman. It's incredible amo
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me quite a while to work out whether I liked this book or not. Certainly the pace is slower than Pressfield's epic "Gates of fire", but that in itself is no major issue. Tales worth retelling have their own pace and rhythm and should not, therefore, be rushed.

Historical fiction is a genre plagued by spoilers. There is no mystery to the outcome of the Pelopponesian war or fate of Athens. Likewise, the rises and falls of Alcibiades' star will not prove mysterious to
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating and really opened my eyes to the vastness of Greek history of which I am quite ignorant. Upon completion I am now hungry to understand more of the historical background to this novel. The character of Alcibiades, if not historical, would have been totally unbelievable! He is such a dynamic character that it is difficult to believe in the veracity of his existence and I am amazed that he is not a more notorious historical figure.

This book challenged my understanding of h
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set against the backdrop of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, this story revolves around the fascinating historical figure Alcibiades. A gifted, inspiring general, politician, and orator, Alcibiades managed to switch allegiances from Athens to Sparta to Persia and back to Athens throughout the conflict, proving that someone will always want your services if you're good. While not as gripping as the author's prior book "Gates of Fire" (which I *highly* recommend), this is an entert ...more
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it
A bizarre narrative structure and a surprisingly distant portrayal of the infamous Alcibiades really held this book back for me, though the language used was stirring and lyrical as always when dealing with Pressfield.

I won't say I was totally disappointed as the author had always set himself an extremely difficult task, but this is certainly not in the same league as "Gates of Fire."
Jenn Sprinkel
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
It moves too slowly for me and I lose interest too quickly. I think I started reading this book a few years ago. I put it down after a few chapters and haven't picked it back up. I still look at it from time to time, but rather read something else... ...more
Paul Downs
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pressfield is a phenomenal writer. I'm re-reading this, and it holds up well 20 years after my first encounter. The story is eerily relevant - rich, charismatic Svengali talks Athens into some very poorly thought out adventures, and the little people pay the price. Remind you of anyone? ...more
Richard Kenneth Conde
Mar 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction, It brought an era to life, and provided an alternative insight. I love reading the historical genre because it gives me a base of knowledge about the history that has formed the world we're stuck in. I don't enjoy textbooks or dry non-fiction, so I turn to writers like Steven to personify history for me. I've found it enlightening to read books like Tides of War, then read about the historical accuracies and inaccuracies in them. A well written historical novel can be as ente ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone that enjoys history
Shelves: audio-version
I listen to this via the Audible platform. It is published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio and narrated by Derek Jacobi. The original publishing date was July 5, 2000. I recommend reading the Audible reviews of the book. In this novel Pressfield took on the Character of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War. The fictional narrative is two times removed from Alcibiades. The main character is an old man telling the account of the man who assassinated Alcibiades. The assassin was Polemides, a friend ...more
David Campton
It seems churlish to give a book with so many virtues only 3 stars but frankly it was a slog through the middle section and there were aspects that annoyed me from the outset. But let me start with the positives. In this book Pressfield offers a sweeping portrayal of the ebb and flow of much of the Peloponnesian from an Athenian perspective, the complex and competing relationships of the Greek city states and the part played in the fate of Athens by the primitive form of democracy of that city ( ...more
Michael Percy
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Pressfield is hard to fault in this historical fiction centred around the Athenian general Alcibiades. If I have any criticism, it is of the format, where one narrator is written entirely in italics for pages at a time, and the reader must be constantly on guard to remember which narrator is at work, and to plow through the italicised text without giving up in despair. I was fortunate to have read Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War before reading Tides of War, and this work fills in ma ...more
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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 a

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