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Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography Paperback – October 5, 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 617 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (October 5, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520071662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520071667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

There's no shortage of biographies available on Alexander the Great, but Peter Green's Alexander of Macedon is one of the finest. The prose is crisp and clear, and within a few pages readers become absorbed in the world that made Alexander, and then the story of how Alexander remade it. Green writes, "Alexander's true genius was as a field-commander: perhaps, taken all in all, the most incomparable general the world has ever seen. His gift for speed, improvisation, variety of strategy; his cool-headedness in a crisis; his ability to extract himself from the most impossible situations; his mastery of terrain; his psychological ability to penetrate the enemy's intentions--all these qualities place him at the very head of the Great Captains of history."

From Publishers Weekly

Green's vibrant biography--a History Book Club main selection and a BOMC alternate in cloth--deromanticizes the Macedonian general, portraying him as a ruthless megalomaniac.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Peter Green is one of the foremost scholars of Alexander the Great.
F. S. L'hoir
This is history at its most exciting, and I strongly recommend this book, to even those with only the most casual interest in the subject matter.
Paul McGrath
This book to me is inciteful, hard to put down and Green makes a good case for his interpretations for Alexander's personality and motives.
J. Solomon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Hubcap on December 3, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a truly excellent biography of a near-mythical figure. First of all, this book provides a thorough review of the known history of Alexander the Great - I have no idea how someone could consider this book "fictional," as one reviewer did. What's most impressive is how Green insists on treating Alexander as a human being. An exceptional person, but still a person, motivated by human passions and concerns. Most ancient history treats its subjects like the stone statues seen in museums. But we can't forget that there were people behind the marble, and they acted like, well, people. Alexander may have considered himself chosen by the gods - and by the end, even divine himself - but Green isn't buying it. At every turn, Green insists on interpreting Alexander's actions just as he might interpret a leader's actions today. Green weighs the poltical, military, family and psychological factors that affected Alexander's decisions, and leaves divine will out of it. Some readers may be put off by Green's demythologizing. I think that Green revitalizes Alexander by restoring humanity to his myth.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Paul H. on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Green's work on Alexander, begins with the legends about his conception, the family and culture he was born into, his early education (I learned alot here about how small the Greek world was in relation to the great minds of the era), his rise to power, the intrigue, and ultimately the military genius of such a young man.
Green does an excellent job of explaining what is known as fact, what is conjecture and what the competing opinions are. He takes historical data, legends and myths and weaves them into a comprehensive study of a historical Alexander who at times was bigger than even his legends and at times was much smaller. Green provides enough information to comprehend the world in which Alexander lived, which makes understanding the man easier.
It is truly amazing to read about these events so long ago in such a refreshing style. It amazed me at times how much Alexander's campaigns sounded like accounts of the U.S. Civil war or other "recent" military events. Alexander and Green's masterful study of the man are both GREAT!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely brilliant--one of the best I've everread on any topic. If this were Siskel and Ebert, it would rate twothumbs, up, way up! To be sure, things get off to a slow start, as the author lays out the setting, introduces a large cast of characters, some of whom had the same name, so it was hard to keep up at times. But after the first several dozen pages, the story just takes off and you can't put the book down. The author does a superb job of putting you right there--I really felt like I was along for the ride clear across Asia to India and back again. But what clearly distinguishes this work is Green's dissection of Alexander. He refutes the traditional description of Alexander as an elightened civilizing force spreading Western culture. It turns out the enemy Persian Empire was a sophisticated, enlightened establishement in its own right--so much so that Greeks in Asia Minor decline to join Alexander's crusade--they've got it good under the Persians. Alexander himself is a ruthless megalomaniac who stamps out anyone he thinks is standing in his way. That said, Green judges him the greatest military commander in history and provides the goods to prove, i.e. wins under every consceivable circumstance. The descriptions of the major operations and battles--Tyre, Issis, Arbela, etc.--are first rate. I also liked the way Green wove in modernist terms (the artillery, the propaganda section, etc.) to show that certain principles and concepts are timeless. In short, this is an absolutely brilliant historical biography. Two thumbs up, way up!
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