The War That Killed Achilles

Caroline Alexander
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ISBN 9780571234301 Format Paperback
Published 06/01/2011 Length 320 pages

About Book

The Iliad is still the greatest poem about war that our culture has ever produced. For a hundred generations, poets and thinkers in the West have pored over, retold and argued about the events described in this martial epic, even when direct knowledge of it was lost. Various empires have admired it as a book that in telling the story of the siege of Troy also extols the warrior ethic, and teaches the young how to die well.

Yet the figure at the heart of the epic, the consummate warrior Achilles, is a brooding, controversial hero. He is a fierce critic of those who have started this war and allowed it to drag on, consuming soldiers and civilians alike. Disconcertingly, The Iliad portrays war as a catastrophe that destroys cities, orphans children and wrecks whole societies.

Caroline Alexander's extraordinary book is not about any of the traditional concerns that have occupied classicists for centuries. It is simpler and more radical than that. In her words, 'This book is about what the Iliad is about; this book is about what the Iliad says of war.'

  • About Caroline Alexander

    Caroline Alexander is the author of seven books, including the best-selling The Endurance and The Bounty, and has written for the New Yorker, National Geographic Magazine and Granta. Born in Florida of English parents, Alexander has travelled extensively throughout the world and lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. One of the inaugural class of women Rhodes scholars at Oxford, she subsequently took her doctorate in Classics at Columbia University, in New York, specialising in Homeric studies, and established the Department of Classics at the University of Malawi in East Africa. She now lives on a farm in New Hampshire in the United States.

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