Synopses & Reviews
A groundbreaking reading of the Iliad that restores Homer's vision of the tragedy of war, by the bestselling author of The Bounty
Few warriors, in life or literature, have challenged their commanding officer and the rationale of the war they fought as fiercely as did Homer's hero Achilles. Today, the Iliad is celebrated as one of the greatest works in literature, the epic of all epics; many have forgotten that the subject of this ancient poem was war-not merely the poetical romance of the war at Troy, but war, in all its enduring devastation.
Using the legend of the Trojan war, the Iliad addresses the central questions defining the war experience of every age: Is a warrior ever justified in standing up against his commander? Must he sacrifice his life for someone else's cause? Giving his life for his country, does a man betray his family? How is a catastrophic war ever allowed to start-and why, if all parties wish it over, can it not be ended?
As she did with The Endurance and The Bounty, Caroline Alexander lets us see why a familiar story has had such an impact on us for centuries, revealing what Homer really meant. Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a bestselling narrative historian, The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and utterly timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of our civilization.
"In her spectacular and constantly surprising new book, Caroline Alexander has taken the 'original' war book and turned it upside down, making it, as all wars are, an excruciating story of loss...The War that Killed Achilles
is a triumph."
"This riveting tale of ancient wars, legendary warriors, and mythical gods is at once a great adventure story and a cautionary tale of the enduring perils of hubris and ego. Achilles' life and death are instructive lessons for all of us today."
"Spirited and provocative...a nobly bold even rousing venture...it would be hard to find a faster, livelier, more compact introduction to such a great range of recent Iliadic explorations."
-Steve Coates, The New York Times
"Penetrating...reflecting her own skills [Alexander] provides her own translation of an entire chapter...a real bonus for the reader, comparing favorably with Lattimore and Fagles."
From the author of the bestselling work "The Bounty" comes a groundbreaking reading of "The Iliad" that restores Homer's vision of the tragedy of war.
"Spectacular and constantly surprising."
Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a bestselling narrative historian, The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and utterly timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of Western civilization. As she did in The Endurance and The Bounty, New York Times bestselling author Caroline Alexander has taken apart a narrative we think we know and put it back together in a way that lets us see its true power. In the process, she reveals the intended theme of Homer's masterwork-the tragic lessons of war and its enduring devastation.
About the Author
Caroline Alexander is the author of the international bestsellers The Endurance and The Bounty. A Rhodes Scholar, she was a lecturer at the University of Malawi, where she established the department of classics. She received her doctorate in classics at Columbia University, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the humanities. Alexander is a contributing writer to National Geographic Magazine and has written for The New Yorker, Smithsonian, and Outside.
Table of Contents
The War That Killed Achilles Preface
Note to the Reader
Map: Landscape of the Trojan War
The Things They Carried
Chain of Command
Terms of Engagement
Land of MyFathers
In God We Trust
The Death of Hektor
Selected Further Reading