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In the Footsteps of Alexander The Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia Hardcover – November 1, 1997

3.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Intrepid explorer in search of the past, British journalist Michael Wood follows the path of Alexander the Great and his army from Macedonia to the Himalayas and beyond in the fourth century B.C. Always one for adventures to match those of his heroes, Wood takes his readers over harsh deserts and snow-clogged passes, stopping off at interesting places along the way: a Zoroastrian temple in Iran, for instance, where we learn that Alexander is regarded as a devil and called Iskander Gujaste, Alexander the Accursed. Devil or no, Wood allows us to appreciate Alexander for the daring of his enterprise: his conquest of southwestern Asia occupied 22,000 miles and two decades.

From Library Journal

Wood (Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England, LJ 6/1/88) has done something most Alexander scholars would envy. With cameraman in tow, he has successfully followed the path trod by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.?and survived to tell about it. The remoteness and diversity of these regions is as remarkable today as ever. The politics are often volatile, yet in many ways the cultures have remained unchanged for centuries. In following Alexander's path, Wood studies not only the physical geography but the historiography of Alexander as it has evolved since his death. He even discusses at length the effect alcohol had on the conqueror, especially concerning his death. Published in conjunction with a BBC-TV series, this work has excellent illustrations. It is most interesting when comparing the geography of today with that of ancient times. Recommended for all libraries, particularly those who purchase the film.?Claibourne G. Williams, Ferris State Univ., Big Rapids, MI
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Television tie-in edition edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520213076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520213074
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,880,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Collins on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Michael Woods is a journalist and historian, who in past works has shown an aptitude in taking history out of the books and conveying rather pedantic research to the average person without insulting intelligence nor overwhelming with a wealth of detail (something a lot of historians, this one included, sometimes do). He does another stellar job with this work. Mr Woods example is one worth emulating for would-be historic tour guides. History is NOT dates and names; it's people, geography and events. By literally following "in the footsteps of Alexander the Great" he not only takes the viewer/reader to the actual sites of some of the most famous places in western history-Mr Woods also gives Westerners a glimpse of vibrant, ancient, and colorful societies in Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan. Places that the Western media usually stereotype as raving Islamic lunatics. These glimpses into societies where Alexander ("Iskander") is still a folk hero/devil, are fascinating, and worth the price of the book/video alone. The trip itself was historical research in that it contributed answers to some of the mysteries regarding Alexander's campaigns. Mr Woods is also an excellent writer, the prose is lively and reflects the author's enthusiasm for the subject. Is the work an exhaustive, authoritative history? Probably not and that's why I gave four instead of five stars. As another reviewer aptly put it don't use this as your only source. But, it is an excellent introduction and secondary source to a man who literally changed western (and middle eastern) civilization by the age of 33. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Why did Alexander and his men risk their lives across so many continents and seas to mingle with the exotic peoples of Africa and Asia? The question intrigues most of us but British journalist and filmmaker Michael Wood takes a more active approach by brushing aside the texts and retracing Alexander's itinerary with a BBC camera crew. Illustrious scholars like Sir Aurel Stein had done it before, albeit for only a part of the route, but unattended by any Media hype. Another Englishman, Thomas Coryat (AD 1616), thought he had seen relics of Alexander in India. He was greatly impressed by a magnificent (Asokan) pillar and presumed that it must have been erected by Alexander the Great 'in token of his victorie' over Porus. Wood does not know that Coryat was right, that the Delhi-Topra Pillar was indeed brought from the Beas area where Alexander had come.

Wood's overflowing energy leaves us stunned - he retraces Alexander's journey by car, on horseback and camel, by boat, and at times on foot, yet his hyperbole often betrays a rather obtuse prognosis. He naively accepts the negative views of some Greeks and of the people conquered by Alexander but remains suspicious of any pro-Alexander view, labelling these as propaganda. Ignoring the Sanskrit or Pali sources, he tries to reconstruct Alexander using only the Greek and Roman texts. He rightly says "Alexander's conquest of most of the known world was a crucial turning point in history which opened up contacts between Europe and Asia, paved the way for the Roman Empire and the spread of Islam, and unleashed astonishing historical energies that continue to affect the world today", but misses probably the most important component - Buddhism.
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Format: Hardcover
Sloppy, inaccurate, sensationalist, poorly researched, biased, oversimplified, and hysterical; I could go on for some time in this vein. Quite simply, Woods' effort is awful. More often than not he takes Alexander out of context, and uses his sources with a selectivity that belies belief. Worst still are his glaring falsehoods. For example (and I will confine myself to only one), he speaks of the route in Egypt that he, Woods, followed from Siwah oasis to that of Bahariya (historians aren't too sure whether A himself took this path, but it seems likely that he did). He claims that the trip took twelve hours, that the 'track' is easily lost, that after 150 kms of the 450km route there is no more water to be found, and that he passed no other vehicle all day. I know the route very well indeed, and all of Woods' claims are factually incorrect. The trip takes seven hours; the 'barely visible track' is, in fact, a road and is only obscure at one point for a distance of less than two to three km; there are six military checkpoints, each located eighty to ninety km along from the previous (a fact which our intrepid danger loving explorer does not point out), and all of them have water available; four of these checkpoints are vehicled. Finally, he seems to think that he is traversing "The Great Sand Sea." He is not; that particular portion of the Sahara lies some distance to the South of his route.So much for any attempt to present the public with some facts as opposed to this self aggrandising Indiana Jones type rubbish. I need not point out to any person of intelligence that if Michael Woods can make such colossal errors when he has actually experienced that which he is writing about, his historical expertise must be even more suspect. And it is.Read more ›
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