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'One indicator of a hero's status,' writes Hughes-Hallett, 'is the degree of terror and hatred he inspires in his enemies.' This compelling study asks what it means to be a hero. Its eight subjects - including Achilles, Cato, El Cid, Drake and Garibaldi - could be egotistical, ruthless and cruel. Yet alone among their contemporaries, they possessed the charisma and willpower to persuade their followers to do the impossible.