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Alexander the Great Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416592806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416592808
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #691,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Even before Alexander’s death, in 323 BCE, his legend had accelerated, aided considerably by his highly effective skills of self-promotion. Classics professor Freeman has written a compact biography that avoids the pitfalls of romanticizing or understanding the personality of Alexander. It is a well-written, chronological narrative that allows Alexander’s remarkable career and achievements to speak for themselves. Freeman doesn’t ignore the thuggish aspects of Alexander’s efforts, but he does correctly place them within the context of the rather nasty world of both Macedonian and Asian political and military struggles. He also pays ample tribute to Alexander’s father, Philip, whose diplomatic and military skills molded the disparate hill tribes of Macedonia into the dominant power in Greece. Justifiably, it is Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire and northern India that forms the bulk of the story and reveals his true genius, including his leadership, expertise in siege warfare, and ability to hold together what evolved into a huge, diverse army. General readers will appreciate this fine account of a man truly deserving of the title Great. --Jay Freeman

Review

“Mr. Freeman’s ambition, he tells us in his introduction, was ‘to write a biography of Alexander that is first and foremost a story.’ It is one he splendidly fulfills.”
—Tom Holland, The Wall Street Journal


"A well-written, chronological narrative that allows Alexander’s remarkable career and achievements to speak for themselves. . . . Readers will appreciate this fine account of a man truly deserving of the title 'Great.'"
Booklist

"Fast-paced and dramatic, much like Alexander himself, this is a splendid introduction into one of the most dramatic true stories of history."

—Adrian Goldsworthy, author of Antony and Cleopatra

“Lean, learned, and marked by good judgment on every page, Alexander the Great is also a roaring good yarn. Philip Freeman has the eye of someone who has walked in Alexander’s footsteps, and he writes with grace and wisdom.”

—Barry Strauss, author of The Spartacus War and professor of history, Cornell University

More About the Author

Philip Freeman is the Orlando W. Qualley Chair of Classical Languages at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Classical Philology and Celtic Languages and Literatures. He has taught at Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis and lectured at the Smithsonian Institution. His books have been reviewed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.

Customer Reviews

The book was very informative, easy reading, extremely interesting.
Robert E Kiley
The author does a great job bringing to life the humongous scale of his military campaign which is why Alexander's story is so interesting.
Amazon Customer
Having just finished re-reading Arrian recently, I wasn't sure there was much point in reading yet another new book on Alexander the Great.
N. Perz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By C.Wallace VINE VOICE on January 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It seems to me that if Alexander somehow had access to this book during his glory days he would be very pleased. He would probably give author Philip Freeman a big box full of gold coins, for Alexander was well known for lavishing gifts on his loyal soldiers and supporters. He would likely grant Freeman high rank as court historian. Freeman's Alexander is a heroic figure, on the scale of Alexander's personal hero, Achilles. Freeman's Alexander is keenly intelligent, capable of quick, decisive action, and brave to the point of recklessness. He was also very knowledgeable.

Aristotle was his tutor. Alexander himself had mastered such works as Homer's epic poems, Euripides, and Herodotus. He made it a point to carefully study anything that might help him prevail. He eagerly tapped the minds of the many experts he brought with him. He had a brilliant grasp of human nature.

Alexander's soldiers, particularly his fellow Macedonians, adored him and would fight to the death for him. Unlike Achilles, he was not one to sit and pout in his tent as his soldiers died. His soldiers had often seen him lead cavalry charges at massive enemy forces, scale walls in the face of spears and arrows, kill scores of hostile soldiers on the battlefield, and suffer alongside his soldiers from exhaustion, thirst, and extremes of heat and cold. He endured the crossing of mountains, deserts, and raging rivers. He led his armies in an incredible twelve-year campaign that extended his rule from Macedonia and Greece to include the vast Persian empire and regions far beyond. He came to control, after fierce fighting, a substantial portion of India.

Freeman describes many epic battles in a highly readable manner. No dry battle tactics here.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former history teacher I was familiar with most of Alexander's escapades, but I guess I didn't know he was quite as ruthless as Freeman shows.

There's some question whether Alexander had something to do with the death of his father. Philip was murdered by one of his guards, a former lover, and prior to his death Alexander was somewhat estranged from his father. He also plotted the deaths of many of his generals who had been loyal to his father. Parmenion, Alexander's chief general at the Battles of Issus and Gaugamela, was among that number, and old Antipater who had been left in charge in Greece during Alexander's push into Persia was on the chopping block when Alexander died. He was completely ruthless on the field of battle as well. If a tribe resisted Alexander's takeover, they were all massacred, including women and children.

That's not to say that Alexander did not have a compassionate side. In one instance a soldier who mistakenly sat on Alexander's throne was forgiven. Alexander also suffered sincere remorse after killing a childhood friend in a fit of temper after the man questioned his leadership. Alexander also treated Darius's family with respect after the Battle of Gaugamela.

I was aware of Alexander's tactical prowess at Issus but it was his refusal to accept defeat that was most impressive. There's an episode where his men were slaughtered as they tried to move through a narrow pass just before Persepolis. He found a goatherd who knew of a trail around the pass, but the goatherd insisted an army couldn't make it around. Alexander's army waded through snow up to their chests and came at the Persians from the rear.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric F. Facer on January 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Freeman's biography of Alexander the Great will grab you by the throat and won't let go. It's a riveting story that you will be sorry to see come to an end.

Apart from telling the story of Alexander's life well, Freeman does a good job of noting the inconsistencies among the ancient sources and acknowledging that some of that record consists of myth and politically expedient legends. Also, his insights concerning Alexander's motives and character are quite persuasive. And I think he is spot on when he suggests that Alexander didn't simply use religion to advance his political and military objectives; rather, he actually believed the gods were with him.

One shortcoming of the book is the absence of any battle maps. For some of the key military engagements, it would have been nice to have had a couple of drawings showing the deployment of forces and the topography of the battlefield. (For those who want this additional level of detail, I recommend the recently published "The Landmark Arrian." It is exceptional.)

In sum, while I still believe Lane Fox's biography is a bit more scholarly and thorough, you can't beat Freeman's effort for the shear entertainment value. And if you like this book, then pick up Freeman's biography of Julius Caesar. It was quite good.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By rck12 on February 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the hinterland of Greece, this 21 year old Macedonian "boy king" with 50,000 soldiers, travelled thousands of miles on foot (some horses also) 2,300 years ago, over and through unbelievable obstacles, breath takingly conquering most of the known world. No arm chair general here...Alexander personally fights hand to hand, all the way through 12 years of ancient glory.

This is a book that begs to be read. The author presents a finely told story for you to discover. He also departs occasionally to speak directly to us with clarifications, and intersperses many vignettes of present day interest during the trek.

This would make an Oscar winning Hollywood spectacular, if Cecil B. DeMille was still around....and I read the book almost as fast as it would take to watch the movie.
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