Alexander the Great Paperback – Oct 5 2004
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"Dramatic, rich in details about little things as well as great...filled with persistent probing into human psychology.... Throughout there is an air of excitement and tension." —The New York Times Book Review
"Fox writes on the heroic scale.... [He] has covered the ground with immense thoroughness." —The Economist
About the Author
Robin Lane Fox is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford, and was until 2014 Reader in Ancient History in Oxford University. He is the author of Pagans and Christians (1986), The Unauthorised Version (1992) and many books on classical history, including Alexander the Great (1973), The Classical World (2005) and Travelling Heroes (2008), all of which have been widely translated. He has been the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times since 1970. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Fox is equally apt to the task of describing the world, both mythological and political into which Alexander would enter upon following his first footsteps at Troy, giving a solid background to readers who may only have a basic familiarity to the classical world.
Fox's gift of description and mellifluousness ties into this book's most glaring weakness, which is perhaps more the fault of its publisher - the lack of maps and their poor formatting. Much of Alexander's feats in Iran and the Punjab are left to the imagination. Countless rivers, cities, place names and engagements that are described with such detail have no secondary visual representation. Some maps also use a topographical shading format which seems to be most effective in obscuring place names that occupy the same space.
In addition, Fox isn't scared to make a few conjectures - like the one that Alexander's mother was likely the one behind his father's murder. Now that you look at it, it sort of makes sense, but the thought never would have occurred to me.
I'm sure the book drives hardcore Alexanderologists (or whatever they call themselves) insane because of these conjectures, but it allows Fox to bring the man to life in a way no other author has - especially keeping in mind that no commentary direct from authors in Alexander's lifetime exists (quite like Christ, a point Fox doesn't fail to mention).
I just wish I could read it again for the first time!
This is the first biography of Alexander I have read, so I'm in no position to compare it to others out there. I can say, however, that Fox succeeds marvelously in bringing geography to life. Despite reading countless books about events in the Middle East, I never truly appreciated how formidable the climate there is until reading Fox. Fox presents a picture that is literally Alexander against the world - against deserts, mountains, heat, cold, snakes, and disease. For this alone, Fox's biography of Alexander is worth reading. I can think of no other historian who so skilfully matches events to geography.
Alas, there are some daunting downsides. While Fox's descriptions of geographic features are amazing, his maps are terrible. This is not entirely his fault; much of the blame lies with the black-and-white reprint. But even putting that aside, the maps given do not completely follow the text and are too few and too far spaced through the book to be much use. Far better to put several maps in one place at the beginning or end of the book for ease of reference. Too, Fox has a depressing tendency to talk in circles for pages on end, retelling the same event over and over and over with slight variations, then giving his own conclusions that sound an awful lot like the original version of the story presented pages before. The effect is to make the reader all the more sympathetic with Alexander's soldiers as they marched through the Makran desert; like them, the reader becomes opressed by the thought that the journey will never end, no matter how worthwhile the result will be.
Most recent customer reviews
This is the second best book I've read on Alexander----best is Green's history----though this is still an excellent read----and it is clear Fox is a master of his subject.Published 4 months ago by BillJason
Balanced and thorough telling that captures effectively the greatness of King Alexander. Fox offers context effectively to capture the novelty of Alexander's actions.Published 23 months ago by Ahmad Hamdi Alkhatib
I feel like I've learned a great deal about the social norms in this society, and a very in-depth insight into Alexander's life, his concerns, his goals, achievements and... Read morePublished on April 21 2012 by Tom
I devoured "The Unauthorized Version" and "Pagans and Christians", two towering works by the same author at a later period in his life. Read morePublished on July 29 2003 by Avid Reader
I devoured "The Unauthorized Version" and "Pagans and Christians", two towering works by the same author at a later period in his life. Read morePublished on July 14 2003 by Avid Reader
This book is the 7th book I read on Alexander, and I find it the most thorough one. He looks at events and episodes from all sorts of different angles, both pro and con point of... Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2002 by PuppyTalk
My comments relate to a hardback edition published by the Folio Society but the same as the setting copy published by Penguin. Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2002 by Diotima
If you are a history buff, this is a very good "biography" of Alexander the Great. However, if you are just interested in Alexander, look for something simpler and... Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2001 by Jose Solera
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