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Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army New Ed Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520042728
ISBN-10: 0520042727
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Engels is Associate Professor of History at the University of Arkansas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (December 29, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520042727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520042728
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imagine this:
You're Alexander the Great, setting out on campaign with your mighty army. Glory and profit await you if you succeed, and as you know from history, the real Alexander did succeed. His army was renowned for its efficiency, speed and lethality; his expedition through Asia was the longest military campaign ever undertaken; he fascinates military historians to this day.
But when you put yourself in his place, ask yourself what was required of Alexander to realize his achievment. Was his fame won through superior force of men and arms alone? Could he take his army anywhere he desired, at any time? Had he merely to set his stern, clear gaze upon a point on the horizon and say: "There we shall go"--or was there more to it?
Start with a mundane consideration: how do you feed your men? It's not as clear-cut as it might seem. Suppose you have an army of 10,000 men. Suppose, further, that each man's consumption rate is 3 pounds of grain per day's march. Now realize that this must mean just what the numbers tell you: each man of your 10,000 needs 3 pounds of grain daily, 3 times 10,000 is 30,000--so you need an incredible 30,000 pounds of food, each and every day. If you don't get this food, your men will weaken and die. There's no way around it.
A quarter million pounds of food over the course of a week's march isn't easy to come by, especially in Alexander's day, is it? After all, you can't have the food airlifted to you. You have no motorized vehicles to speed you along, either, bear in mind. Your own feet must take you, slowly and over rough terrain in hot weather, to your destination.
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i would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in military strategy or ancient history. i read it in a day because i simply could not put it down. engels provides a case for alexander's movements based on what is logistically possible through the movement of troops and supplies. well researched (he pulls from sources as diverse as ancient greek text and us. army records), the book opened my eyes to what warfare in those days must truely entail.

this is not an introductory book on alexander's campaigns, however. the author assumes you have good knowledge of what the pervailing theories are of the routes that he took, and doesn't waste time explaining details that might not be known to someone who hasn't already read and studied this time period.
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Format: Paperback
Engel's little book is one the best investigations into the effects of logistical factors on warfare that I've ever read. Reducing the energy needs of any body of men and animals to a formula,applying logical constraints to deductions about the movement and function of these groups, and by rigorous historical investigation into the geography, history and climate of the relevant places involved, Engels picked out the motivations and concerns of Alexander (and his enemies) as he marched across the shuddering corpse of the Persian Empire.

Don't be put off by the implied technical details above. This is a very readable book, a story, even. It's one of my favourite reads. Engel's conjectures are thought provoking, but always backed up by hard evidence. Anyone studying warfare in any time prior to the modern period (where trains and the internal combustion engine changed everything) needs to read this book to understand how things worked.
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This book is very important. Supply and logisitics are VERY important to any military history and here it is! The book starts out with a general chapter on the Macedonian army and its logistic system (such as how much food the army needed, the time needed to rest and feed the animals, how fast it moved and the methods that could be used to deliver and transport such supplies needed by the men and animals). The other chapters deal with each region, for example Chapter 2 deals with how the system worked in Greece and Turkey, based on archaeological work done in Asia, careful study of the landscape, climate and the military operations carried out by Alexander. The Appendixs deal with such subjects such as rations and routes taken by the army. Along with 16 maps in the end, the tiny book, only about 194 pages long, is STUFFED full of data. It is a must for any fan of Alexander the Great or anybody into military history.
A great book to read along with J.F.C. Fuller's 'The Generalship of Alexander the Great'.
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Format: Paperback
Despite the somewhat obscure title, this is a great read. Engels traces the journey of Alexander and his army across Asia and, using mostly quantitative analysis, explains how they managed to keep themselves fed through it all. In some cases, as in the Gedrosian desert, they didn't -- with devastating results. I've read many books on Alexander but this offers a fresh perspective, explaining not only what happened but why it happened. If only more history were written this way.
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This is a very illuminating book on the supply and logistical challenges that Alexander the Great had to overcome in his numerous brilliant and successful campaigns. Donald Engels's book is unique in that it focuses on an area that many authors either takes for granted or pay scant attention to, yet it is an integral and critical part of any successful military campaign.

The book contains some important lessons for all commanders today on the critical importance of logistics to sustain an army and ensure that it is well supplied and that troops remain motivated. The book shows how Alexander's intimate knowledge and understanding of terrain, geography, weather, seasons, sources of provisions and accessibility of routes enabled him to expertly solve the various logistical challenges thus ensuring his decisive victories. The immensity of the calculations that he had to make, the numerous permutations that had to be taken into account with respect to factors such as speed of troop movement, water and food requirements for people and animals as well as the weapons and ammunition shows really how capable Alexander and his staff were.

The book thus authoritatively highlights the fact that Alexander's genius for effective logistical system played an essential part in complementing his brilliant tactical skills and leadership acumen. After reading this book, you can make sense of why Alexander made certain decisions as supply and logistics severely restricts where an army can go, its speed, rest periods, how long it can stay at any given place, the number of soldiers that can be accommodated as well as methods of transport and supply, among other things.
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