Alexander the Great / Edition 1

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Alexander is the towering hero of the classical world. His fame has grown for well over two millennia and embraces Eastern and Western cultures alike. In Alexander the Great, Paul Cartledge, the distinguished scholar and historian long acknowledged as perhaps the preeminent authority on Sparta and Greece, glowingly illuminates the brief but iconic life of Alexander (356-323 BC), king of Macedon, conqueror of the Persian Empire and founder of a new world order. Cartledge's book is, above all, a hunt for a new past to counter the myths, legends, and often skewed history that have been passed down to us. At the age of twenty, Alexander inherited the mantle of his father, Philip of Macedon, becoming master of the Greek world east of the Adriatic. A mere six years later, he had conquered the mighty Persian Empire, and by the time he was thirty he had taken his victorious armies even further, ruling an empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush. But before his thirty-third birthday Alexander was dead.

Alexander's legacy has had a major impact on military tacticians, scholars, statesmen, adventurers, authors, visual artists, and filmmakers. In his own lifetime and in ours he has been seen as hero, holy man, Christian saint, a new Achilles, philosopher, scientist, prophet, and visionary. Cartledge brilliantly evokes Alexander's remarkable political and military accomplishments, following the geographical path of his victorious armies and charting the tremendous field of this warrior-hero's influence. With attack and brio, he cogently explains why and how Alexander is endlessly fascinating, providing a view to a better understanding of such fundamental topics as charismatic leadership, imperialism, and Middle Eastern geopolitics.

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Editorial Reviews

Tracy Lee Simmons
Cartledge has chosen to highlight Alexander the Hunter, the man whose entire life can be explained as a quest for the next quarry. In so doing, Cartledge has produced a book that may be the most accessible introduction in print; though scholars may profit from this study, the general reader out for essential knowledge is particularly well served. He has combed meticulously through the classical sources left to us -- Arrian, Plutarch and Diodorus of Sicily, among others -- and combined them with the recondite cullings of modern scholarship to produce an amazingly solid, balanced and evocative view of the man behind the image on the coins.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Alexander the Great's brilliant military campaigns in the fourth century B.C. spread not only his reputation as a heroic and ingenious leader but also the culture of ancient Greece throughout the known world. With his usual riveting storytelling, Cartledge (The Spartans), chair of Cambridge University's classics faculty, narrates Alexander's life and rise to power. Cartledge takes issue with those who contend that Alexander's greatest contribution was to spread Hellenism. He argues instead that Alexander, while sincerely attached to Hellenism, was more concerned with the glory his conquests brought him. Cartledge provides detailed chronicles of Alexander's battles with the Persians, the Tyrians and the Babylonians as he demonstrates the young king's military genius and hunger for success in war. According to Cartledge, Alexander's love of hunting game offers the key to his life and reign. It led him, for example, to successfully adapt for military battles many hunting strategies, such as the surprise attack, a uniquely Alexandrine contribution. A number of appendixes, including a glossary and an extensive bibliography, enhance the book. Cartledge's knack for bringing history to life makes for an absorbing new biography of the legendary Greek leader. 37 b&w illus., 4 maps, 6 battle plans. Agent, Julian Alexander. (Oct. 5) Forecast: Warner Brothers' November 5 release of Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, could give this a sales boost. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Cartledge (Greek history, Cambridge Univ.) sees Alexander as "one of those very few genuinely iconic figures, who have both remade the world they knew and constantly inspire us to remake our own worlds." He aims to provide "a book that does full justice to Alexander's extraordinary achievement while respecting the limits of the evidence and of the historian's craft." Ultimately, this work presents not so much a new understanding of Alexander as a provocative survey of how historians have perhaps misunderstood him. Virtually every chronicler who has sought "the historical Alexander" has faced the same dilemma: documentary evidence that, though "quite ample in quantity is poor in quality." In this lucid work, Cartledge's solution is to present these problems of interpretation as clearly as possible, offer his own estimate of Alexander, and conclude with the mild hope that he has achieved his "fairly modest aim of illustrating the sorts of source problems the hunter after the `real' Alexander can encounter." Recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries with an interest in classical studies. Robert C. Jones, Warrensburg, MO Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Master of the Persian Empire at the age of 26, conqueror of Central Asia at 30, dead at 32. Alexander's legend endures, and with very good reason. Writes classicist/biographer Cartledge (Greek History/Chairman of Classics Faculty/Cambridge Univ.; The Spartans, 2003), he "became at various times a hero, a quasi-holy man, a Christian saint, a new Achilles, a philosopher, a scientist, and prophet, and a visionary." But most importantly, he was a warrior. Alexander's victories were by no means inevitable, Cartledge notes, and some came about because Alexander retained certain military innovations of his father, Philip of Macedon, who had conquered much of Greece only a few years before Alexander's time. For instance, the men of the Macedonian army carried their own equipment and supplies, which reduced the size of the baggage train and "rendered distance a negligible factor," allowing that army to range widely. Alexander added a great navy to this army after taking control of Philip's forces upon his father's death-a demise in which, Cartledge more than hints, Alexander may have played an important part: "The charge of patricide can never be proved," he slyly writes, "but that it can be contemplated at all conveys a good notion of the edgy quality of life at the top of Macedonian society." A devoted student of Aristotle's, although he gave the so-called barbarians more credit than did his master, Alexander was the supreme pragmatist: here he allowed the conquered cities of Greece to keep their old democratic governments, there he butchered the satraps of Persia just as an object lesson, for Alexander "did more or less what he wanted" and understood the uses of terror. And what he wanted morethan anything else, it appears, was to conquer the world, drink, and be treated like a god, all of which he accomplished before meeting his own end-perhaps, Cartledge notes, as a victim of poisoning. A literate rendering of Alexander's life, drawing on the most reliable ancient and modern sources. (See also Steven Pressfield's The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great, p. 710.)Agent: Julian Alexander
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585675654
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

PAUL CARTLEDGE is the author of Sparta and Lakonia and The Greeks. He is A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge.

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Table of Contents

1 The fame of Alexander 37
2 Alexander's world 57
3 Young Alexander (356-334 B.C.E.) 81
4 Alexander and the Macedonians 91
5 Alexander and the Greeks 107
6 Alexander : conqueror of Persia (334-327 B.C.E.) 135
7 The generalship of Alexander 157
8 Alexander and the Persians 189
9 The final years (327-323 B.C.E.) 207
10 Alexander the man 219
11 The divinity of Alexander 237
12 The legends and legacies of Alexander 251
App Sources of paradox 267
Table of Achaemenid Persian kings 295
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Balanced historian's view of Alexander

    Alexander, king of Macedon, is one of history's great personalities best known for military achievemnets. Movies and popular fiction have shaded truth so that the real Alexander is a mystery. Cartledge rectifies this through the sleuthing of a historian. What emerges is a charismatic, decisive, innovative, ruthless leader who was dead at 33. This is a balanced look at the many facets of Alexander's life, and written in a readable style.

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