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on June 28, 2001
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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on 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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on July 29, 2003
A very detailed accounting of Alex the Greats exploits
based upon numerous historical authors.
The book could very much benefit from additional
maps included in the appropriate sections.
The chapters dealing with Alex's early campaigns in Persia
mention MANY persion cities, and there is NO map
in these chapters showing their locations!
There is a rudamentary map a few chapters back,
but a more detailed map is really needed.
Also, its arrogant of the author to use
numerous references to people and events in British culture
to describe Alex's exploits (never mind the
unending use of cliche'd french, latin, greek, and german
phrases-is he just showing off
his language skills??)
Believe or not Mr. Green, the whole world does not reside
in Great Britain,and chic cultural references will
become incomprehensible through time.
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