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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Introduction to Alexander
In the University I was a math major, but I have always been interested in history, and more particularly in ancient Greek and Roman history. The perspective I bring to this book is not one of expertise, but rather of enthusiastic interest. Peter Green's "Alexander of Macedon" was one of the more enjoyable biographies that I have ever read because it was not...
Published on Aug. 4 2003 by Gabriel Robert McNeill

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A work of Historical Fiction, not History
Green's "Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B. C. : A Historical Biography", is a famous book which has had a great influence on not only general readers but also on serious scholars. I have much admiration for Green's lucid style and would accept his assertion that he wanted to discover the historical Alexander of flesh and blood stripped away from the accreted myth but I...
Published on June 28 2001 by Dr. Ranajit Pal


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A work of Historical Fiction, not History, June 28 2001
By 
Green's "Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B. C. : A Historical Biography", is a famous book which has had a great influence on not only general readers but also on serious scholars. I have much admiration for Green's lucid style and would accept his assertion that he wanted to discover the historical Alexander of flesh and blood stripped away from the accreted myth but I think he has miserably failed in this objective. Green rightly presents Alexander as the most incomparable general the world has ever seen but is not aware of the silent role Sasigupta played in many of his victories. He is totally unaware that Orontobates of Caria was none other than Diodotus of Erythrae of Caria and Tiridates who was at Persepolis. Throughout the work there is a deplorable tendency to carve out an Alexander from the most ghastly and detestable stories that one can lay hands on without for a moment bothering about the probity of the sources or the general scenario. Green mocks at Alexander's idea of Brotherhood of man and at the end what he offers us is essentially an unenlightened Elizabethan perspective. Unfortunately this propaganda has swayed the opinions of many unsuspecting modern historians of Alexander. About himself Prof. Green has recently written, "Professor David Halperin, rather flatteringly, has credited me with being a provocateur, a mischief maker-rather, one gathers, in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes, of whom it was said, in A Study in Scarlet, that he was quite capable of trying out the latest poison on his friends, not out of malice, but in the disinterested pursuit of scientific knowledge". From the recent Scotland Yard reports we now know a little more about the disinterested pursuit of Sherlock Holmes, but this spirit of frolic hardly befits the subject under study. As the great historian J.B. Bury stated, History, after allowing for all its uncertainties, remains a scientific pursuit of Truth and has some relation to the now-forgotten concept of morality. Through the Gedrosian desert Alexander was chasing the all- powerful Moeris (Chandragupta of Prasii). Green has no idea that the navy was carrying provisions for the army which was engaged in a grim and protracted battle. As a general Alexander can hardly be blamed for imposing a levy in order to arrange for the supplies for his army. This is why the people of Pattala had fled. Badian had totally misjudged the situation and had foolishly compared Alexander with Chengiz Khan and Green follows suit and turns history writing into a reckless propaganda exercise. Green's grasp of Indian or Iranian religion or society is extremely meagre. He has almost no time to reflect over the true nature of the Hellenistic miracle or eastern religions like Buddhism which benefited enormously from Alexander's intervention. In my opinion the book is famous for the wrong reasons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars leaves you wanting MORE, May 20 2004
By 
Panos "Pontios" (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
A good book for overview of subject. I read it several years ago when I was devouring everything I could get my hands on to do with the subject matter.
I give it a 4-star rating for it's bibliography and for the author's modesty when he suggests that it is a subject requiring exhaustive and on-going enquiry. Also has excellent maps.
The work itself is broad in its scope a tour-de-force in this regard, but so too are many other works e.g., Hammond, Bosworth, Badian,Fox, Renault etc.. etc...To gain the most benefit from such a work further reading will make the study of this worthy subject in history much more enjoyable and worthwhile.
Perhaps Hammond's "The history of the Macedonian state"(?) would be a good companion to this book....
If you really want to get into it start with the ancient sources, the most accessable are Arrian and Plutarch. They may be a little difficult and enigmatic but you MUST read as much as you can because all authors on the subject of Alexander will refer to these two sources time and time again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint of history, April 16 2004
I bought this book about 15 years ago when my 7th grade teacher offered a lot of extra credit for it. I didn't read it then, and now I understand why he chose it. His thinking must have been that any 7th grader who could complete this book must be a genius, and he was prepared to reap the scholastic benefits of making this discovery.
I have picked this book up several times in the last 15 years in an attempt to finish it, or to leave it casually on my nightstand when I wanted to impress someone. Unfortunately, I believe my main problem with trying to finish this novel is that I'm just not smart enough.
"Alexander of Macedon" is a very detailed account of the life of Alexander the Great, and to a lesser extent, his father, Philip. If you've ever wanted to know everything there is about Alexander, this is the book for you, and is probably the most exhaustive text available. It is thoroughly well researched and is loaded with sources. It is evident Greene spent his time putting it together. I would not recommend this book to anyone who simply wants an enjoyable biography of the man however. This book is an incredibly difficult read. New battles and people are mentioned every other paragraph, and it takes at least 100 pages just to get into anything interesting. I was mind-numbingly bored out of my skull for the first 50 pages and was incredibly confused before Greene even got to talking about Phillip.
I imagine once the movie comes out next year, many will be looking to expand their knowledge on Alexander and learn more about him. As I said, unless you are really obsessed with the man and want to know every detail of his life, I wi=ould look for a simpler read. This book is not written for a general audience and any exciting facts or stories about Alexander are buried under mounds and mounds of historical data.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Introduction to Alexander, Aug. 4 2003
By 
Gabriel Robert McNeill (Berkeley, California United States) - See all my reviews
In the University I was a math major, but I have always been interested in history, and more particularly in ancient Greek and Roman history. The perspective I bring to this book is not one of expertise, but rather of enthusiastic interest. Peter Green's "Alexander of Macedon" was one of the more enjoyable biographies that I have ever read because it was not only well written, but passionately written. I have read other books, and heard other interpretations of events than those which Green gave, but for the most part I was persuaded to believe his version by his realism and his inspired sense of reality and probability. Some scholars such as Tarn have presented an Alexander as a figure of hero worship; Tarn's Alexander does very little wrong, and garners great praise for his prowess. Green's Alexander is more a man that we can recognize; he is a man driven by a will to ever be the best, driven by a lust for power, and driven by a strong belief in his own superiority. Green does not pass idle judgement on Alexander, for how can a man be so judged who lived in such different times, and who we know only through sources written hundreds of years after his death. We can and Green does, however, make many strong inferences regarding not only the character of Alexander, but his means, motivations, and intentions.
Green's prose is eminently palatable, and was not stiff or dry at all. For somebody who knows little about Ancient Macedonia or Greece, this book is strong in that it does not presuppose knowledge. Green's tone is neither condescendingly scholarly nor unabashedly folksy, but one of an intelligent person ardently interested in his subject and eager to communicate it to the reader be he or she expert or layperson. If you are more interested in Alexander's generalship, then Green's book does not provide the fullest account, though he understands what took place at the main battles of the Granicus, Issus, Gaugamela (Arbela), and against Porus. For Alexander's generalship read J. F. C. Fuller's book "The Generalship of Alexander the Great," though you will notice an important difference between what Green and Fuller say about what happened at the Granicus (I tend to lean towards Green's view on this one).
By those who find Alexander fascinating, and who want to gain a greater understanding of how his myth came to be, this book should definitely be read. It deserves five stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rich and detailed biography, June 1 2004
By 
Eric A. Nilsen (Santa Clara, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Alexander was an enigmatic figure, to say the least. Peter Green provides us with a fabulously detailed, if somewhat dry--though often quite funny--account of his life. It is a very scholarly work; cross-referenced, annotated like mad and full of esoteric French and Latin idioms with English words I had to look-up in my UNABRIDGED dictionary. Still, you get the sense of a real person behind this legend--and it is fascinating, to say the least. Some repetitious language, combined with a cast of characters that would leave Pynchon scratching his head (Green himself acknowledges the frustration caused by so many duplicate names) make it a little hard to follow sometimes, but the narrative is strong and cohesive. I would have really appreciated a larger number of more detailed maps, since a few of the sites the book makes reference to aren't marked (a pipe-dream, I'm sure, since history itself seems to have swallowed a great deal of that information). The battle-plan graphics for Alexander's major confrontations were helpful in visualizing the scene set by Green's exposition. I recommend this book for anyone who wants a comprehensive study of the man who aspired to be a god.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Have sword and spear, will travel, Oct. 11 2003
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Only occasionally have I read a work of history that's in the "can't put down" category. DISTANT MIRROR by Barbara Tuchman, MEN TO MATCH MY MOUNTAINS by Irving Stone, and Shelby Foote's monumental Civil War trilogy come to mind. ALEXANDER OF MACEDON, 356-323 B.C. by Peter Green is now another.
This material first appeared as ALEXANDER THE GREAT in 1970. This particular volume, a revision and expansion of that earlier book, is the second reprint (1991) of the title first published in 1974.
For the sake of background, the author necessarily begins his masterpiece with Alexander's father, Philip of Macedon, whose achievement was to unify Macedonia and coerce the Greek states to the south to join with him in an Hellenic League. But, after Philip is assassinated on page 105, it's all Alexander as he marches his army on a peripatetic route of conquest against the Persian Empire throughout Asia Minor and the Middle East as far as present-day West Pakistan - and then back again. Twenty-five thousand miles - the circumference of the Earth - in eleven years. I kept turning the pages to see what he was going to do next.
In his "Preface to the 1991 Reprint", Green makes it clear that his study of Alexander is a work in progress, and that even this book needs further revision in the light of new information. However, as flawed as the author may consider his ALEXANDER OF MACEDON to be, his masterful distillation of 17 pages worth of ancient and modern sources makes the narrative of Alexander's life sing. Green's prose is crisp and touched with a dry humor, and it never bogs down.
Though Green concludes that Alexander is "perhaps ... the most incomparable general the world has ever seen", he doesn't spare his subject from charges of megalomania and tyranny. But, in a man who never lost a battle and was proclaimed first the son of a god, and then himself a deity, can this be so surprising? Alexander is, in a sense, a tragic figure - one who couldn't see the wisdom in the statement of his subordinate commander, Coenus:
"Sir, if there is one thing above all others a successful man should know, it is when to stop."
ALEXANDER OF MACEDON is replete with a Table of Dates, fourteen maps and battle plans, and a 24-page appendix examining in detail the poorly documented battle on the River Granicus, Alexander's first victory in Asia against the Persian king Darius III.
My only complaint regarding this riveting historical piece is that the author didn't summarize the chaotic dissolution that overtook Alexander's empire immediately after his death. The contrast would have made me appreciate Alexander's achievement all that much more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No Romanticism Here!, Feb. 12 2003
The book starts with the latter part of Philip II's life, and continues through to his son's (Alexander's) death. The detail in this book is absolutely breathtaking from battle plans to routes taken and more. This book describes Alexander without bias and does not fall into the common mythification of Alexander as so many other books tend to have done.
Hardships of moving an army and its non-combatants (~100,000 people) for over 8 years and 17,000 miles across some of Earth's toughest terrain and environments are described in clever detail... the nomadic tribes encountered, the established citadels sieged, the methods used to siege these structures, the cost of maintaining an army and hired mercenaries, how Alexander dealt with individuals and groups... it's all here!
Building a massive mole to Tyre, the battle at the Granicus, Gaugamela, the Jhelum and more! Peter Green also details the complexities of generalship and how Alexander's influence from his boyhood tutor, Aristotle, taught him the importance of bringing scientists, botanists, historiographers, geographers and others on his epic move across Asia and southeast Europe.
The battle of the military minds between Alexander, Porus, Memnon of Rhodes and of course, Darius, really peaks one's interest! Read exactly how Alexander was able to defeat an army of 100,000 men with only 47,000 soldiers (a tactic repeated later in history by Marlborro, and more recent generals).
The author also takes great pains in separating propaganda and reality in this book so that the reader can understand fully the complexity of Alexander's incredible life.
From founding cities in today's Afghanistan to jumping over a citadel wall to take on an army by himself, this book has it all... not bad for someone who couldn't swim!
I loved this book, and found myself taking over 100 pages of notes because I was so interested! Highly recommended piece of academic literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No Romanticism Here!, Feb. 12 2003
The book starts with the latter part of Philip II's life, and continues through to his son's (Alexander's) death. The detail in this book is absolutely breathtaking from battle plans to routes taken and more. This book describes Alexander without bias and does not fall into the common mythification of Alexander as so many other books tend to have done.
Hardships of moving an army and its non-combatants (~100,000 people) for over 8 years and 17,000 miles across some of Earth's toughest terrain and environments are described in clever detail... the nomadic tribes encountered, the established citadels sieged, the methods used to siege these structures, the cost of maintaining an army and hired mercenaries, how Alexander dealt with individuals and groups... it's all here!
Building a massive mole to Tyre, the battle at the Granicus, Gaugamela, the Jhelum and more! Peter Green also details the complexities of generalship and how Alexander's influence from his boyhood tutor, Aristotle, taught him the importance of bringing scientists, botanists, historiographers, geographers and others on his epic move across Asia and southeast Europe.
The battle of the military minds between Alexander, Porus, Memnon of Rhodes and of course, Darius, really peaks one's interest! Read exactly how Alexander was able to defeat an army of 100,000 men with only 47,000 soldiers (a tactic repeated later in history by Marlborro, and more recent generals).
The author also takes great pains in separating propaganda and reality in this book so that the reader can understand fully the complexity of Alexander's incredible life.
From founding cities in today's Afghanistan to jumping over a citadel wall to take on an army by himself, this book has it all... not bad for someone who couldn't swim!
I loved this book, and found myself taking over 100 pages of notes because I was so interested! Highly recommended peice of academic literature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most In-depth, historical biograpghy on Alexander, Dec 14 2002
By A Customer
Peter Green's seminal Biography is a profound study of one history's most controversial figures, ALEXANDER THE GREAT. In his work the Mythical character is stripped of all his embellishments, adornments, and legends, and in the end, a complex, often contradictory portrait of a truly unique man emerges; that of Alexander of Macedon. Green strives to understand the political, psychological and physical desires that drove Alexander to conquer the known world. In the end, the Alexander who materializes is shown in all his cruelty, barbarism, and ruthlessness, and yet Green never denies his more noble attributes: his undying loyalty, limitless courage, kindness toward women, enduring friendships and a military genius who has never been surpassed. Green's most revolutionary idea is regarding Alexander's sexuality. A topic that has stirred much debate in recent decades. It turns out, much to the disappoint of many, Alexander's sexuality does not fit into any of the cultural norms of our own time. Surprisingly, the man seemed to have some sort of a distaste or revulsion toward all sexual desires. He had his fare share of beautiful mistress, both female and male including, perhaps fathering several illegitimate children. However, probably due to the oedipal fixations of his mother, in his short lifetime there are no great love stories to speak of. His deep friendship with Hephaestion was just that, a friendship, and the mourning at his death, the signs of a man losing his sanity, while his conspirators closed in on him from all sides and brought about his downfall. Elegant, precise, and thourally fascinating, Green's biography is the closest we will ever come to understanding, perhaps, Western Civilization's most influential figure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars requires much, gives even more, Aug. 7 2002
By 
What really shocked me when I read this book for the first time twenty years ago in my Polish home at the age of twelve was the passion. Now, twenty years later I'm still under the Green's spell. I had known this book almost by heart in polish translation, and I read it several times after I had bought an original. Green has that uncommon magical ability to write. He gives us a picture of certain epoch. He doesn't let us judge persons he's presented us (nor he does) - and that's really amazing. What he gives is a story of Macedonia, Greece, Persia in IVth century BC - and their's people. It's not for beginners - and You should know a few facts already (not only about Greece, for example about I World War as well). I was too young to understand all (during first reading), but this book had lighted my curiosity. Or had given a fuel - it doesn't matter.
I love when Green says: "Remember, there are not only Athen and Sparta in Greece". I don't like many things our ancestors did in the past. Green has write that he wants to show us "the real Alexander" - more human. In my opinion he does it perfectly.
You shouldn't read this book if You are under a spell of Tarn, but if You do believe in "brotherhood of man" You should go to North Korea. Totalitarism destroys that believe perfectly. People can make easily Orwell's vision (1984) on earth - that book sounds like a prophecy to me - but they never make a paradise. There were no single person in history who did had power and did made good. Tarn thought he'd found one. Green's proved that was a mistake.
Now in one satement: It is worth reading (in my opinion the best biography ever written), but not as a single book about Alexander III and his times.
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Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography
Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography by Peter Green (Hardcover - Aug. 5 1991)
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