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REview first posted on Amazon.co.uk on 20 January 2012
I bought this book in 2010 and have recently discovered that it has not been reviewed, although it was released a year before. This is the first volume of three, with the other two dealing with Alexander's sieges and siege engines and his field campaigns. However, this volume also has a couple of pieces towards the end on each of these topics, probably because it is meant to be also a standalone book, as opposed to "episode 1".
Stephen English, who used his master's degree thesis as the basis of this book, has done a decent job in presenting the main features of Alexander's army and reviewing most, if not all, of the issues related to it and which historians have been debating for decades. In this respect, his bibliography, which is significantly longer that what you generally find in Pen and Sword's books and includes some of the older works, shows that he has extensively researched his subject. There are, however, quite a few problems associated with this work.
One knd of issue is that he tends to present certain views as firm conclusions where he is, at best, presenting his own take based on shaky evidence or even on what seems to be the most plausible solution or explanation, in his view. This can lead to some controversial statements such as: - his presentation of the phalangites as "peltats", because they had smaller shields than hoplites and because he assumes that they had little body protection (i.e. no armour). On the latter point, the issue is more complex that he seems to make it out. They do no seem to have worn metal armour but could perfectly well have had leather armour, which was considerably cheaper to make.Read more ›
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