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Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography Paperback

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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: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,354 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.

Customer Reviews

I find this book to be a very easy, fascinating read.
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
Anyways... If you want to read lots of books on Alexander the Great (like I did), start with this one!
Stephane Verreault

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 80 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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36 of 36 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
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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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68 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wells on February 14, 2002
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I grew up in the age of an idealized Alexander. First was the Robert Rossen film starring Richard Burton. It was 46 years ago, and though I don�t remember much detail I do remember Alexander cutting through the Gordian Knot, his affection for the warhorse Bucephalus, and the deaths of Hephaestion, and Alexander � his soldiers walking past his death bed. I was struck by Alexander�s loyalty, and his emotional depth. Next came a voracious reading (and later re-readings) of Mary Renault�s romantic trilogy. The brave son, the bold warrior, the loyal friend � founder of cities, lover of women and men, etc., etc; heady stuff for a boy entering adolescence. And though my intellectual interest in Alexander waned, his life as reflected in those works marked me.
Not too long ago I read �The Soul of Battle� by Victor David Hanson and came to learn that not everyone held Alexander in the same esteem. I think Hanson may have even called him a �butcher.� It finally dawned on me, of course, world conquest is not an act of loving kindness. A man could not be responsible for that much death and destruction and not be a brute. I figured I had to read something other than fiction to get a more accurate accounting of my boyhood hero.
The site ran a review of �Alexander of Macedon� that caught my eye with the claim that Peter Green�s biography was �one of the finest.� I was immediately pleased with the title, �Alexander of Macedon� rather than the expected, �Alexander the Great.� The book is not a difficult read, in fact, for history it�s often quite breezy. The Alexander portrayed is no less a wonder than I always thought, but much more a human. Alexander�s greatness, according to Mr. Green, was somewhat erratic, as he could be both great and petty but not in equal measures.
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