From Publishers Weekly
Once Alexander the Great had conquered the Mediterranean world, he turned his eyes eastward to Asia in what historian Prevas terms a "pathological compulsion" to expand his power. In a rather pedantic and workmanlike account, Prevas, who retraced Alexander's footsteps to Asia, examines this chapter of the Macedonian conqueror's life. According to Prevas (Hannibal Crosses the Alps
), Alexander exhibited a dark side that his biographers rarely account for. Prey to a megalomaniac desire to rule the world unrestrained by self-control, Alexander thought of himself as divine and expected his constituents and armies to worship him as well as obey his commands, however unreasonable. Prevas recounts Alexander's unstoppable drive to conquer Persepolis in Persia and avenge his father's death, which he attributed to Darius, destroying monuments, statues, every vestige of Persian culture. In India, when his army demanded to return home, Alexander instead marched them through the Gedrosian Desert, one of the most brutal places on earth. By the time he returned to Babylon, Alexander had lost the respect of his followers, and many scholars speculate that he met his death at the hands of one of his governors. Prevas's straightforward account of these exploits reveals no new information about the ruler; readers will do better with Paul Cartledge's new Alexander the Great
. 16 pages of b&w illus., maps.
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There seems to be no end to the books dealing with Alexander the Great, the king of Macedonia and conqueror of Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Babylonia, and Persia. Prevas focuses on Alexander's campaign of conquest across Asia, having researched his book by retracing most of Alexander's route through what are now Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. He begins with Alexander's capture of Persepolis in the winter of 330 B.C and ends seven years later with his death in Babylon in 323 B.C. The author emphasizes "the tragedy of Alexander's demise," positing that the conquest of Persia would have satisfied the most ambitious of men, but even after Alexander had conquered all of Persia, he was compelled to explore further. By the time he died, Prevas shows, Alexander had become paranoid and eccentric, if not outright mad, and once he lay dying, his empire began to disintegrate. Prevas concludes that Alexander's story confirms the axiom that power is a dangerous commodity that must be handled carefully by those who possess it. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved