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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 68 reviews
on September 22, 2016
I really liked this series. Michael Wood helps make history even more interesting and the format of this show of him literally retracing the routes taken by Alexander the Great made this a very interesting way to learn. You don't see a bunch of reenactments of battles and stories like other documentaries, instead you see what the land traveled was like and hear stories from the modern day locals who have been passing on the history for around 2500 years. Since he travels to places like Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, etc.... you get to see what these places along Alexander's journey are like which differ a lot from what Hollywood/news portray them as which was an interesting side effect of watching this (I learned that watermellon is big in Iran :)).
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This production from Michael Woods has been considered the gold standard of Alexander documentaries for entertainment. The general scholarship is excellent, while Wood also weaves in a lot of local tradition as he travels actual paths believed to be the route of Alexander. Some of it is still supposition (he estimates some locations with help of locals and historical accounts), but fairly solid overall. This program is much more faithful for those seeking specific information about Alexander's journey. He starts from the beginning and travels as much as possible along actual routes, meeting local peoples all the way. Some of the people Wood interviews are quite the characters! It's amazing to see when Wood traveled these paths, Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq and the Taliban had not taken Kabul. He is able to travel areas he could never go freely now, though some northern areas of Afghanistan are more restive. The strengths of this series are also minor weaknesses. The smaller details where he relies on local legends and personal guesses are probably not 100% correct. But they are good theories. Also, since he is actually traveling the paths, he also tends to be the focal point of most shots. He is like that spot on the screen that travels with the background no matter where the camera goes (figuratively speaking). Never the less, it is an outstanding production that has few rivals. The US version went out of print for a bit and looks expensive at time of writing. You can get the UK release for much cheaper on Amazon UK. However, it will only play region 2.

Alexander's Lost World uses Alexander more as a very loose tie to explore civilizations in Northern Afghanistan and other areas to the north and east such as Tajikistan. In fact, it's a lot about the ancient civilizations along the Oxus river. Many of these civilizations would have been encountered by Alexander and these interactions do figure into the narrative of this program. We also get a look at what these civilizations would have been like long before and sometimes after Alexander passed through. The Bactrian civilization along with it's cities factors in very heavily. This may sound dull to some, but I have to say it is fascinating! Afghanistan appears like a barren country of unsophisticated peoples now. Life tends to cling to the wadies and rivers in the mountain valleys. We see here how many of these cities were quite extraordinary for their time. In many ways the society there might have been less backward compared to the rest of the world than the Afghanistan of today. The cities of Ai Khanoum and Bakh were particularly extraordinary. Aqueducts with kiln fired bricks covered large distances and were surprisingly complex. David Adams also explores up the Oxus river to areas where Alexander would not have gone in order to find the source of the Oxus. Along the way he discusses civilizations and battles that occurred there, including some that do claim relation back to Alexander. The narration and graphics are also much updated and fascinating in this production as they show you representations of what these huge cities might have looked like. The entire program begins with a through back to Jason and the Argonauts (long before Alexander) as Adams asserts that Alexander was following old routes that may have been traveled by what Adams believes was the true journey of the Argo. It's a bit of a stretch, but certainly plausible. It was really interesting to see many areas of the Hindu Kush as well as the Pamir Mountains where Adams ends his story. Gorgeous, remote country!

The focus of these two productions are really quite different and both can be watched together without crossing over on material to the point you get bored. The BBC version is older with a lot less polish. The Adams production is quite slick, but less about Alexander.
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on May 20, 2017
This one is for students of ancient history, but it's accessible to everyone as British historian Michael Wood tries to go everywhere Alexander did.
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on February 8, 2005
I ordered this DVD, along with two books, because I wished to learn more about Alexander the Great as a historical figure. This was after having endured the recently released film disaster of the same name by Oliver Stone. Having earlier watched another of Michael Wood's documentaries, the delightful "The Conquistadores", I was willing to gamble on Mr. Wood's skills as a storyteller a second time. My gamble paid off.

As a trained historian and history teacher, I was again impressed by Mr. Wood's attention to detail and accuracy. Not once in four hours of viewing, could I jump out of my seat, play the pedant, and shout "Ah Ha!, he is wrong on this point!"

And the cinematography! I was as riveted by the beauty of the landscapes as I was the engaging and often humorous commentary of the host. "In the Footsteps.." deserves kudos for presenting the often desolate parts of the world its subject experienced as haunting and beautiful in their own right.

Wood's supreme gift, however, is his ability to tell a riveting story. And to tell it in such a warm and affable way as to convey the impression he was sharing it with me personally. It was together we traveled the Hindu Kush, tramped through the snow capped mountains of Macedonia, and sat huddled with tea drinking Iranians, listening to the tales of "Sikandur", the horned one. Mr. Wood's intention is not to persuade, but instead to educate and stimulate debate. My only regret is that the series was not longer. Whatever happened to the fruits of Alexander's labors and the labors of his men? Sadly, Mr. Wood leaves this tale for another to tell.
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on August 3, 2005
Michael Wood decided to follow the footsteps of Alexander the Great by retracing the path of that man and his army. Wood attempts much of the actual path himself, letting us see, and experience virtually, much of what the army experienced. The documentary is worth seeing for this alone, for despite the 2300+ years which have passed since Alexander's time, it is possible to get a sense of the distances, the heights, the valleys, the deserts and the bodies of water which the army traversed in order to "conquer the world."

The documentary was made several years ago - the date mentioned for the VHS version is 1998 - as Wood makes his journey, one region mentions Saddam Hussain being in power, and the Taliban being in the process of taking Kabul. Given the strife of the region, one has to admire Wood and his crew for their bravery and daring in shooting the documentary (as well as wonder how much paperwork they had to fill out). The conflicts in the area, as well as the well-documented carnage which Alexander and his armies inflicted, make this a far more sobering work than another one of Wood's documentaries, "In Search of the Trojan War." Wood, when interviewing locals along the route, finds that Alexander's deeds are often still remembered - and usually hated. Although Wood tries to admire Alexander throughout the documentary, Alexander's war crimes and slaughters and disregard for the lives of even his own people become more and more apparent. Wood tries to excuse this at the end of the four-part piece, explaining that we needed to understand Alexander within the context of his time. For me, this is insufficient. Great writers and thinkers had already come into being, and Alexander was certainly aware of them - after all, he was a pupil of Aristotle's!
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on May 26, 2005
This program is extremely well done but it is not a documentary in the traditional understanding. Instead, it is more of a travelogue. Along the way of the travels, we get a good deal of information about the conquerer of the known world as well.

The program starts out in Macedonia. It then follows the career of Alexander through Asia Minor, Egypt, Iraq (Babylon), Iran (Persia), Afganistan, India and then the final march back to Iran again. Wherever possible, the actual route of Alexander's army is followed. This involved crossing national boundaries, battle lines in civil wars and some really intimidating mountains, goat paths and deserts. It does a good job of bringing out just how remarkable his achievements were.

This presentation is not chock full of historical facts and hypothesis but both of those are present in respectable quantity. They are present as adjuncts to the wonderful scenery. This progam should appeal to anyone who is interested in either Alexander or in travel to exotic places.
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on September 24, 2010
My only complaint about this video event, thus far, is that on the third viewing the DVD had already developed a glitch in the midst of the fourth and final episode.

Could not finish the segment.

But we learn by seeing and doing as well as reading, and I found Woods "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great" to be a great visual presentation of what I just finished reading about in another work, that is, Mary Renault's THE NATURE OF ALEXANDER. I am going to look for Curtius and Arrian in my local library.

All in all, I do recommend this video to all who like history. It is well cone.
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on October 22, 2005
I loved reading Alexander.I had hoped that in my lifetime I would be able to go and trace his footsteps like Mr. Wood did.Unfortunately I waited too long.Some of the places are not safe ,and very treacherous. I did go however to many places that he conquered,up to Pakistan and India.

I do not think that this is a waist of money in purchasing this DVD, on the contrary, riding on donkeys sometimes are the only way to go.

In my lifetime I have been to 49 countries,and I understand how Mr.Wood had to travel, it is not fair to judge his ways, without realy having been in some of these places.
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on September 4, 2007
This DVD is 4 hours of Michael Wood and his crew literally taking the same path Alexander did on his conquest of Persia and his demise in Asia. There is no dramatization, but I still found myself quite interested. He hitches rides with warlords, his hired guards chase off bandits, and he walks through uninhabited deserts. Really amazing what he did for this production. He tells stories of Alexander throughout. Some of them are shown as dramatizations in the history channels Alexander the Great DVD, others are not. It is an entertaining and informative DVD on the life and conquest of Alexander the Great.
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on August 4, 2010
Michael Wood travels down ancient roads to the actual places where the historical events of Alexanders conquest toook place. From Asia Minor to Persia to Central Asia and India you see the places the battles took place, the cities founded, and hear the local people tell there side. Hero, villian, genius, madman, drunk, and visionary - Alexander the Great shaped the modern world of today in many ways. Michael Wood makes it all personal.
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