Nov. 27, 2022

Trailer → Great Books | “The Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield: A Deep Historical Examination of the Values and Ethics of Warriors Throughout History

Trailer → Great Books | “The Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield: A Deep Historical Examination of the Values and Ethics of Warriors Throughout History

Book Summary of “The Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield


Steven Pressfield’s The Warrior Ethos is a deep historical examination of the values and ethics of warriors throughout history—from the ancient Spartans to Japan’s Samurai to Alexander the Great—and how these values can be applied to the battles we each fight. We all struggle daily to find and defense our sense of purpose, to show up as our best ourselves, and to overcome the obstacles we face in our own pursuits. In that struggle, there's much we can learn and apply from the world's great warriors and warrior cultures.

The Warrior Ethos is really a mini-book. The book’s content is drawn almost exclusively from the ancient world, from Herodotus and Arrian, Plutarch, Vegetius, Xenophon, Thucydides, etc. There are anecdotes about the Spartans, the Romans, the Macedonians, with a few thrown in from the modern British and Israelis and even the Afrika Korps under Rommel. Here’s one story about Alexander the Great, taken from Plutarch, to give you the flavor of the book:

Once, Alexander was leading his army through a waterless desert. The column was strung out for miles, with men and horses suffering terribly from thirst. Suddenly, a detachment of scouts came galloping back to the king. They had found a small spring and managed to fill a helmet with water. They rushed to Alexander and presented this to him. The army held in place, watching. Every man’s eye was fixed upon his commander. Alexander thanked the scouts for bringing him this gift, then, without touching a drop, he lifted the helmet and poured the precious liquid into the sand. At once, a great cheer ascended, rolling from one end of the column to the other. A man was heard to say, “With a king like this to lead us, no force on earth can stand against us.”