In the Footsteps of Alexander The Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia

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Overview


Between 334 and 324 B.C. the Macedonian army, led by Alexander the Great, marched relentlessly across Asia. An event of bravery and cruelty, endurance and greed, Alexander's expedition was a turning point in human history. His conquest opened up contacts between Europe and Asia, unleashing astonishing historical energies that continue to affect the world today. This extraordinary book recreates Alexander's 22,000 mile, ten-year expedition from Greece to India, following as much...
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Overview


Between 334 and 324 B.C. the Macedonian army, led by Alexander the Great, marched relentlessly across Asia. An event of bravery and cruelty, endurance and greed, Alexander's expedition was a turning point in human history. His conquest opened up contacts between Europe and Asia, unleashing astonishing historical energies that continue to affect the world today. This extraordinary book recreates Alexander's 22,000 mile, ten-year expedition from Greece to India, following as much as possible the actual route of his journey.

Historian Michael Wood traversed seventeen countries, trekking through the Zagros Mountains to find the lost site of Alexander's battle at the "Persian Gates," drinking black tea in the Hindu Kush, listening to ancient stories of Sikander e Aazem, and crossing the Makran Desert with twenty-three camels. He traveled with Lebanese traders, Iranian pilgrims, Afghan guerrillas, and other local people on a journey that took him through many of the twentieth century's major trouble spots, including Beirut and Kurdistan.

Wood bases his account of Alexander's conquest on the texts of Greek and Roman historians, but he also reconsiders the Greek adventure in terms of modern ideas on colonialism, orientalism, and racism. The Macedonian conquest, which has mainly been seen through Greek sources, is illuminated for the first time by medieval travelers' narratives, newly discovered oracles, and prophecies on papyrus or clay tablet.

At the heart of Wood's powerful story is the towering, enigmatic character of Alexander the Great. He ascended the throne at twenty, conquered much of the known world before he was thirty, and was dead by the age of thirty-two. A ruthless politician, brilliant military tactician, devoted son, family man, lover of both women and men, Alexander was known for his extreme generosity as well as his ferocious cruelty. Following in the conqueror's footsteps centuries later, Michael Wood overhears the words of the fabled Greek mermaid who calls to passing sailors: "Great Alexander still lives!"

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
In his passion for history, Michael Wood likes to search out those corners of time that survive more as romantic myth than as reliable memory, that float in the past seemingly unconnected to the world as we know it . . . Naturally, like any researcher, he delights in discovering the unknown, yet his objective is not academic. Rather it is to spread his enthusiasm for history to as many people as possible.
Washington Post
Wood is a lively storyteller and the tale of Alexander is dramatic and colorful.
Library Journal
Wood . . . has done something that most Alexander scholars would envy. With cameramen 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.
Kirkus Reviews
British historian Wood (The Magician's Doubts, 1995, etc.) absorbingly recreates Alexander the Great's epic conquests. Alexander ascended the Macedonian throne at the age of 20, conquered much of the world known to the ancients by 30, and died aged 32. Born in 356 B.C., Alexander was shaped by barbarian and classical forces: His mother, Olympias, was intensely devoted to strange religious cults, but Alexander was tutored by one of the great philosophers of all time, Aristotle. When Alexander succeeded to the throne in 336 B.C. after his father's assassination, he became the master of a kingdom that already dominated a Greece exhausted by the war between Athens and Sparta. Shortly after becoming king, he ruthlessly suppressed an uprising by the city of Thebes, then invaded Persia, Greece's ancient enemy. Wood retraces Alexander's astounding victories over Darius at Granicus and Issus; his easy victories over Phoenicia and Egypt, where the oracle of Zeus declared him son of God and where he founded Alexandria, destined to become one of the great cities of the ancient world; his invasion of Babylonia and his completion of the destruction of Darius' army at Arbela and Persepolis; and subsequent conquests of central Asia and India. Wood meditates on the transformed landscape of Alexander's world, his frequent atrocities like the sacking of Persepolis and the massacre of the Branchidae), and his lasting legacy of destruction. To this day, in many countries Alexander touched, the name Iskander is a byword for destruction, ambition, and greed. Nonetheless, Wood points out, although Alexander's conquests were transient and his empire short-lived, his rule was a critical turning point for theancient world, generating creative energies and contacts between East and West that would never have occurred otherwise. Wood has thoughtfully recreated one of ancient history's most fascinating periods.
New York Times Book Review
Relying on Greek and Roman sources, Wood tells a glorious story with some very dark shadows . . . The harrowing tale of his own trek over the same ground makes clear how heroic Alexander¹s army was. And in a dozen countries, in cities and villages, in desert camps and on mountains of the Hindu Kush, he found that Alexander is fiercely alive in poetry, songs, and folk tales, in the imaginations of millions.
Publishers Weekly
This is a marvelous adventure and a delicious taste of history.
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
A thoughtful meditation on the roots of the Anglo-Saxon world.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It is hard to imagine that only 13 years passed between the day Alexander the Great ascended to the throne of Macedon and his death in Babylon in 323 B.C. His 22,000 mile, 10-year world conquest stretched from Greece to India and established the young warrior firmly in the folklore of every part of his known world. Historian Wood (In Search of the Trojan War) trekked Alexander's path, and the result is this companion volume to the upcoming BBC/PBS series of the same name. It is still pretty tough travel, requiring camels, horses, sturdy shoes and a variety of hardy vehicles to places that are still some of the world's trouble spots and where little seems to have changed since the Macedonians marched east. But it is the way Wood weaves together a number of fascinating threads that makes Alexander more than the story of a rough trip. He explores how, 2000 years after his death, tales of Alexander are still told in marketplaces across Central Asia, and how his image appears in the art of lands as far from his path as China. Alexander's place in history is revealed through his contemporaries as well as the revisionist historians of later centuries. Wood wisely takes the time to set the scene: Why did a 20-year-old ruler of a bellicose backwater like Macedon feel he could challenge the mighty Persian empireand then keep going? On the other end of the time line, Wood shows how some of the burning issues of Alexander's time are still some of the hot-button topics in that part of the world today. Illustrated with 112 images (56 in color), this is a marvelous adventure and a delicious taste of history. (Nov.)
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
The New York Times
Not only a history of Alexander but also an account by the intrepid British documentary maker Michael Wood of his tracing of Alexander's entire route....Wood tells a glorious story. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
British historian Wood (The Magician's Doubts, 1995, etc.) absorbingly recreates Alexander the Great's epic conquests, in a tie-in to a series to air on PBS in early 1998.

Alexander ascended the Macedonian throne at the age of 20, conquered much of the world known to the ancients by 30, and died aged 32. Born in 356 b.c., Alexander was shaped by barbarian and classical forces: His mother, Olympias, was intensely devoted to strange religious cults, but Alexander was tutored by one of the great philosophers of all time, Aristotle. When Alexander succeeded to the throne in 336 b.c. after his father's assassination, he became the master of a kingdom that already dominated a Greece exhausted by the war between Athens and Sparta. Shortly after becoming king, he ruthlessly suppressed an uprising by the city of Thebes, then invaded Persia, Greece's ancient enemy. Wood retraces Alexander's astounding victories over Darius at Granicus and Issus; his easy victories over Phoenicia and Egypt, where the oracle of Zeus declared him "son of God" and where he founded Alexandria, destined to become one of the great cities of the ancient world; his invasion of Babylonia and his completion of the destruction of Darius' army at Arbela and Persepolis; and subsequent conquests of central Asia and India. Wood meditates on the transformed landscape of Alexander's world, his frequent atrocities (like the sacking of Persepolis and the massacre of the Branchidae), and his lasting legacy of destruction. To this day, in many countries Alexander touched, the name Iskander is a byword for destruction, ambition, and greed. Nonetheless, Wood points out, although Alexander's conquests were transient and his empire short-lived, his rule was a critical turning point for the ancient world, generating creative energies and contacts between East and West that would never have occurred otherwise.

Wood has thoughtfully recreated one of ancient history's most fascinating periods.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520231924
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,040,000
  • Product dimensions: 7.75 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Wood is a writer and historian living in England. His book, In Search of the Trojan War (1989), was on The New York Times Best Seller list and accompanied a PBS television series. His other books include In Search of the Dark Ages and Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England.
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  • Posted July 7, 2014

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

    Amazing.....!Excellent......!Just enjoy it.....!

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