Waldemar Heckel is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Calgary. His publications include numerous articles on the history of Alexander the Great., 'The Last Days and Testament of Alexander the Great' (Stuttgart 1988) and 'The Marshals of Alexander's Empire' (London 1992). Together with John Yardley he has produced the Penguin edition of 'Quintus Curtius Rufus: The History of Alexander' (1984), a commentary on Justin's books on Alexander (OUP 1997) and most recently, 'Livy: The Dawn of the Roman Empire' for Oxford World's Classics (2000).
Wars of Alexander the Great 336-323 BCby Waldemar Heckel
The age of Alexander and his conquest of the Persian or 'Achaemenid' Empire, which had existed for over two centuries, represents a watershed in the history of the world. This book offers a fascinating insight into the achievements of one of the greatest generals ever known. Alexander's conquests are of profound significance. By perfecting the new weapons and tactics developed by his father, Philip II, and combining them with the use of specialist units and advancements in siege warfare, Alexander enabled the Macedonian kingdom to move beyond the restrictions of city-state armies and on to the stage of world conquest.
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I really enjoyed this little morsel of history, so much so that I tried another another book from the Essential Histories series when reading on another topic. Before mentioning the good/bad about the book I should say that I'm not typically a reader of history and I had little or no knowledge of ancient Greece. What pleased me most about the book was that the first chapter or two set the scene for Alexander's conquests by talking about his father, the Macedonian Kingdom, and its relationship to the Greek states--this seemed lacking in many of the academics' books; likewise, the end of the book touches on what followed the power vacuum left by his death. at 90 pages it's a good quick read generally covering the course of Alexander's eastward journey, without going to much into the specifics of each military campaign. the pages are peppered with treats that make the book a fun read: anecdotes displaying Alexander's personality, short excerpts from original sources like Arrian and Plutarch, pictures and diagrams to understand battles, you name it. I also appreciated that the author was not totally flattering in recounting Alexander's doings (nobody's perfect). The only downside for me was that I wanted a little more depth than this book offered. so I read this one alongside a lengthier history (Hamilton's Genius of Alexander the Great). but as someone who doesn't typically read history, I'm not sure I really needed the play-by-play for each battle anyway. For the new fan of Alexander, give this book a try and then decide if you need to get more elsewhere.