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Editorial Reviews


"A magnificent, compelling epic...He has honored him splendidly." —Sunday Telegraph

"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 was the main historical advisor to Oliver Stone on his Alexander film, and took part in many of its most dramatic re-enactions. He has been University Reader in Ancient History at Oxford University since 1990 and Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College, Oxford, since 1977. His books and articles include major works on the relation between the pagan and early Christian religions of the Roman Empire and his forthcoming History of the Ancient World will be published by Penguin in autumn 2005. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st PAPERBACK edition (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035138
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I wish someone had just told me to read this book and skip the others.
Kevin Bartus
Robin Lane Fox was only 27 when he wrote his biography of Alexander, but it's twice as good as many Alexander biographies written by authors who were twice Fox's age.
An extremely enjoyable book that reads like a good novel, and, most importantly, you don't have to be a history buff to enjoy it.
Bill Castelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

238 of 242 people found the following review helpful By aengus dewar on March 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is a truly vast quantity of books, articles, and texts available on Alexander, and I have read as many as possible. Without a shadow of doubt I can recommend Lane Fox's effort as the best I have yet encountered (for Alexander buffs I include in that list of inferiors Badian, Tarn, Wilcken, Schackermeyr, Green - both of them - Hammond, Dodge, Engels, Bosworth, Hamilton, and Griffith to name but a few). Robin Lane Fox is rightly sceptical of sentimentality when dealing with his subject. Nor does he come to Alexander with his mind already inflexible and set on the King's more cotroversial aspects - a practice deplorably monotonous within the field. On ethical issues he keeps in mind the moral tone of the day - a habit that many modern historians would do well to engage in. He is rigorous in the extreme in his use of sources; he is analytical without being academic to the point of tediousness; and he deals with Alexander as a broad and complex human being - that is to say that he deals with the Macedonian as a ruler, a general, a lover, a patron of the arts, a drinker, a hunter, a reader of literature, a quester after glory, a figure of charisma, and also as a man of complexity and failings. It is in this last respect, his varied view of the Alexander, that he succeeds the most, for many of his biographers tend to concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of all others and consequently fail to give a rounded picture of the King. Lane Fox realises that oversimplifying the personalities of long dead figures does more to cloud them than to clarify them. For this he is to be commended highly. His style is lucid and often pithy.Read more ›
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113 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Mark Edward Bachmann on March 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary history. Anyone expecting a conventional biography will be disappointed, since the biased and fragmentary nature of the primary sources makes modern biographical treatment for Alexander impossible, even more so than for other ancient heroes. However, one thing about the peripatetic conqueror that seems to be known with some certainty is the itinerary that defined his brief life. Starting from this, Mr. Lane Fox applies his own intimate knowledge of the middle and near-eastern landscape to create a book which, at its most basic, reads like a highly literate travelogue. This is all backdrop, though, for a kind of detective story as the author picks apart the tantalizing fragments of information and disinformation that, once boiled down, reveal for us Alexander's character. The bold military prodigy is clearly apparent here, but that's the standard textbook part of the story. Rounding out the picture, we see him as the cosmopolitan diplomat, beloved egalitarian leader-of-men, bisexual libertine, respectful supplicant to his gods, forgiving victor, gallant defender of women, ostentatious potentate, superstitious fool, charismatic orator, fearless in-the-trenches combat commander, wily tactician, boyish adventurer, child-like animal lover, sophisticated Greek intellectual, reckless gambler, visionary strategist, loyal and generous friend, bloody mass killer, and drunken lout. And the truly remarkable thing about the history is that all these persona somehow hang together, creating a believable portrait that makes it clear why Alexander has fascinated politicians, soldiers and scholars for twenty-three centuries. Stylistically, this book is dense and will deter casual readers.Read more ›
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on October 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
There is no shortage of books on Alexander The Great, but Robin Lane Fox supercedes them all with this grand, highly detailed and impressive work that manages to entertain, educate and excite the reader about the subject. One of the benefits of Fox's "Alexander The Great" is that he decides to do away with boring, repetitive structures and decides to use both the evidence but basic human experience to tell the tale of one of history's most fascinating kings. History, Fox explains, is motivated much by human emotion, passionate feeling aside from the usual politics. This gives his book a natural dramatic touch, it doesn't have the feel of a fictitious novel, but of a biography that really tries to explore Alexander and those around him as people. One of the disappointments in Paul Cartledge's recent biography is that he relies strictly on tablets and scrolls, and dismisses the human areas, creating characters that are cardboard cut-outs. To Cartledge everything is politics, all true relationships homosexual and any other intercourse purely done for politics' sake. Fox here gives us the portrait of a man driven by a need to discover, to reach the heights of Achilles, but also a haunted man, especially by his mother Olympias. The book is also well-detailed in the culture of the times and in his descriptions of landscapes and even home interiors, Fox manages to completely transport the reader to another time and place. Each chapter is richly detailed with not only the story of Alexander, but his influence on world history and leaders like Julius Caesar and Napoleon. We get fascinating myths, comments, tales of conspiracy and murder and one of the great interchanges of culture ever. Fox educates us about customs and rituals, beliefs and battle tactics in a work of enormous scope.Read more ›
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