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Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Paul Cartledge(Author)

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At eighteen Alexander had conquered mainland Greece, was crowned King of Macedonia at twenty and by twenty-six he had made himself master of the once mighty Persian Empire. By the time of his death, aged only thirty-three, in 323BCE he was ruler of the known world and was being worshipped as a god by the Greeks, both at Babylon, where he died, and further west, among the Greek cities of the Asiatic seaboard. The fruit of a lifetime’s scholarship and meticulous research, this is an outstanding biography of one of the most remarkable rulers in history.

'A hugely impressive portrait of a towering but enigmatic figure' Saul David, Sunday Telegraph

'A revealing, often enthralling search ... [a] restless, exhilarating book' Observer

'Fascinating...blends all the pleasures of Hollywood epic with those of a subtle and deeply intriguing detective tale' Tom Holland, author of Rubicon

'Alexander the Great provides an endless fount both of amazement and of speculation. This gripping book examines the legends as well as the life. Most interestingly, it invites the reader to participate in the difficult task of separating the fact from the fiction' Norman Davies

2.5 (10219)
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Book details

  • PDF | 368 pages
  • Paul Cartledge(Author)
  • Pan; Reprints edition (21 Oct. 2005)
  • English
  • 6
  • Biography

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Review Text

  • By Matthew Turner on 28 June 2008

    This was a very enjoyable, and entertaining, book to read. Paul Cartledge writes in a scholarly way, yet manages to keep the reader's interest.This is a biography of Alexander the Great, but it is not written in chronological order (the timeline provided is useful here). Rather, it is a collection of essays on "themes" or "aspects" of Alexander. These include, among others, his legacy and enduring fame, his relations with the Macedonians, Greeks and Persians, his generalship, the world in which he was born into, and the question of his divinity. One enduring theme throughout the book, to me, is Alexander's pothos (strong desire or yearning), either to outdo his father's achievements, surpass the deeds of Heracles and past heroes and need to carry on conquering. Alexander also comes across as a ruthless ruler - as the murders of his historian Callisthenes, Cleitus, Parmenion and Philotas testify - yet his geniusness as a general cannot be denied.For those who find the mention of various ancient place-names confusing maps are provided, as well as a handy glossary of terms and a list of the dramatis personae of those people mentioned in the text. Detailed maps are also shown of Alexander's great victories at Granicus, Issus, Gaugamela, the Hydaspes and the siege of Tyre.For me, the best aspect of the book was the Appendix. Titled "Sources of Paradox", here Cartledge provides an in-depth look at the advantages, disadvantages and limitations of the sources on Alexander. Every writer seems to be considered - Plutarch, Arrian, Cleitarchus, the Vulgate and Official, to name a few. The chapter is rather a masterclass in how a trained historian and expert works with the sources. The section ends with two examples of how the sources contradict and provide problems for a would-be historian of Alexander - the death of Callisthenes (rather how he died, not why) and what really happened at Alexander's trip to Siwah to visit the oracular shrine of Ammon. The "Sources of Paradox" essay alone makes this value for money.However, for a work on such a major historical figure, this is a surprisingly short book. Maybe the author did not want to go into too much depth - as a result this is perhaps a good "introduction" to Alexander, but it is by no means a basic, simple work. Also, Cartledge does not provide footnotes within the main text, which I personally prefer. Nevertheless a lengthy bibliography is included at the back for anyone, like me, wishing to read more and finding out which sources were used.This is the first biography I have read on Alexander the Great, and Cartledge has provided an excellent biography which has instilled in me a desire to learn more about such a fascinating, complex character, who just happened to be history's greatest commander.Thoroughly recommended.


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