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Alexander the Great Paperback – 28 Aug 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Aug. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140088784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140088786
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,290,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Robin Lane Fox was the main historical advisor to Oliver Stone on his Alexander film, and took part in many of its most dramatic re-enactions. He has been University Reader in Ancient History at Oxford University since 1990 and Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College, Oxford, since 1977. His books and articles include major works on the relation between the pagan and early Christian religions of the Roman Empire and his forthcoming History of the Ancient World will be published by Penguin in autumn 2005. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Two thousand three hundred yean ago, in the autumn of 336 B.C., the king of the Macedonians was celebrating another royal wedding. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Filthy Raider on 17 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Couple of warnings about this book: Written in 1973, albeit with some revisions since, this is still a book where the majority of the text is heading towards being 40 years old. That in itself is not an issue (although some of the sections on homosexuality show a lot more of 70s sentiments than current thinking) as the book is detailed and well written.

And that is the other warning: It is VERY detailed. Don't expect a standardised history of Alexander, this is probably very close to the definitive detailed work and at times it can be hard going, but the expanse of detail makes it worthwhile.

If you are starting out looking for a history of the man, I'd probably point you away from this, but if you have chewed your way through a good many histories and want something more, then this is definately for you.

Well researched hardly describes it, but I do think casual readers will fall out within the first few chapters. Also as someone just about to graduate into their first pair of reading glasses along with their 'everday' specs, it is tightly printed so make sure you have some good specs handy!
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Ms J H Cook on 15 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
I have not studied Classics and I had never read a biography of Alexander before but I could not put this book down. It was detailed and inspiring and I will be buying copies for friends. It is more than a biography, it is a tale of true adventure, war, bravery and leadership. I felt the author helped me, the reader, live in the times of Alexander. At the same time he reminded me that I was reading a historical chronical that was based on pieces of information that had been passed down or preserved. He distinguished between educated assumptions and facts, so I trusted him as an historian. The adventure and times as depicted in the book are thrilling and I recommend it highly.
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97 of 104 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
Lane Fox is a brilliant writer, whose superb execution of the English language in this book is a joy to read. One of the most realistic appraisals of Alexander's life and achievements that I have read: he dispels many of the myths surrounding the young Macedonian king that have been perpetuated by later authors - particularly the Romans. Lane Fox attacks the source material with gusto, and clearly demonstrates the bias and economy with the truth perpertrated by some of his original biographers (e.g. Ptolemy). It is fascinating to learn how the rivalries of his Successors and the conceit of Roman writers have obscured much of the truth about Alexander. Still, Lane Fox gives credit where it is due, and for anyone interested in reading about one of the greatest adventures of all time, this one is a brilliant effort.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Martin VINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
Oxford historian Robin Lane Fox has written a superb biography of one of history's most mythologised characters.

Fox never patronises his audience with his writing style but neither does he make any assumptions that the reader is pre-armed with a firm grasp of classical history. He clearly explains where he gets his sources from, who he trusts, if there are conflicting accounts and where his judgements lie.

The book relates an epic story and Fox tells it in great detail; normally, the more detail a book provides, the better but in this particular case, the book loses one star in its rating because Fox's sentences can run to great lengths and become rather muddy (I'd give it four and a half if I could). Don't let that put you off buying this book, though, as it animates quite successfully Alexander's life and times, the politics and the geography. This book is especially recommended to those of you who have Oliver Stone's film, Alexander Revisited, to which Robin Lane Fox was an advisor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Crothers on 7 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This is not an easy read as other reviewers have noted. It's "old school" history writing and may prove too much for those more accustomed to the more informal style of narrative history books which have appeared in recent years. It's also let down by some of the poorest typesetting I have ever seen in a book and the quality of its maps, at least one of which is almost illegible in parts.

Those qualms aside, it does reward the persistent reader with a thorough and detailed account of a fascinating character and period in time.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Aegean on 14 April 2008
Format: Paperback
This is "the" book for those wishing to get to grips with every detail. But I have to echo the drawbacks from previous reviewers: detailed, complex English in places, and very poor maps by today's standars: even the new 2004 edition is a essentailly a reprint from the 1970's.
Beginners would be far better off with Michael Wood's "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great"; then read the original ancient sources; then this.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Caterina VINE VOICE on 14 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
To start, the good things about this book. It's very detailed. It questions and evaluates historical sources. It doesn't over-romanticise Alexander. Most importantly, it gives the impression of being very reliable, scholarly, and unprejudiced. I would recommend it strongly for these reasons alone - there seem to be lots of books out there which lack any of these desirable qualities.
But be warned.....there are some not so good things.
First, the language in which the book is written is unduly complex - lots of double negatives, very involved sentences, etc. I simply don't think this is good writing: admittedly the events being discussed are complex, but surely even the most complex concept or event can be expressed using simple, accessible, language?
Second, the maps really aren't particulary useful. They are small, dark, and difficult to read. So the geography is rather baffling - unless of course you already have considerable knowledge of the ancient world, or an atlas of it to hand.
Third, for the beginner it's easy to get bogged down in the level of detail. There's little sense of a wood, or even of the outlines of one, just of thousands of trees.
Fourth - so MUCH military history! Endless pages about chariots and spears. I did find these a little dull, though I'm sure that's an unfair criticism - tastes differ. And of course you could argue that an account of the world's greatest military leader would necessitate a certain amount of military history.
Overall, I found this book difficult to finish - although having done so, I know a lot more about Alexander and his world than I did before. And I'm tempted to re-read it. I imagine that it's a very rewarding book for someone who already has an overview of the subject - but perhaps it's not the best introduction to it.
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