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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Books |
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Heroes: Saviours, Traitors, and Supermen, Lucy Hughes-Hallett

An engrossing and exciting non-fiction book, adjectives seldom used when describing any act of non-fiction. Heroes is a social study of eight of histories great men, from Achilles, the very model of anti-social heroism, and Odysseus, the trickster and schemer cast out of society and fights for his return, to Garibaldi, whose romantic revolutions so wetted the erotic appetites of English high society. Heroes is the story of men too great to be allowed to live in the society they defended, created, or enriched. Alcibiades, who thrice turned traitor to Athens, but still seen as that Cities only hope for salvation. Wallenstein, the defender of the Holy Roman Empire, who was murdered in his pajamas on his sick bed, and his killers reveled in their own great courage. Cato, whose love of the Roman Republic could not survive it, and who tried to kill himself, only his attempt of evisceration did not work, his son and servants found him and sewed him up, so he was forced to open his wound with his own hands and pull out his entrails. Achilles becomes the model for the man who accepts no compromise with his honor, Cato, Garibaldi and the Cid. Odysseus is his antithesis, a man willing to adopt any means to fulfill his purpose. Alcibiades, sentenced to death in his Athens, who fled to Sparta, then Persia. Sir Francis Drake, who shear brazenness robbed the Spanish of thousands of tons of silver and Gold and made Elizabeth’s England solvent. Heroes is so very enthralling because the men whose lives it chronicles are so very enthralling. The unasked question is what has happened to these men, where is our Cid, who won a battle dead and strapped to his horse?

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