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Macedonian Warrior: Alexander's Elite Infantryman [Paperback]

Waldemar Heckel , Christa Hook
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 April 2006 Warrior (Book 103)
During the reigns of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the Macedonian Army - the phalangites - were reformed and drilled into an invincible fighting force with unique tactics and weaponry. The Macedonian warrior, during his service, would march over 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) in the most diverse climates and terrains, fighting in four of the epoch battles of the time. This book examines their initial training, rise to an elite unit under Alexander the Great, and eventual defeat at the battle of Pydna, in 168 BC. The daily life, weaponry, experience, and motivations of these men are detailed, using primary sources and anecdotal material.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (28 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841769509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841769509
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 18.3 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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What was it that distinguished the Macedonian infantryman from the Greek hoplite? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alexander's Infrantrymen 19 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
Macedonian Warrior, Alexander's Elite Infantryman, is a highly informative account about this active part of Alexander's forces.

Heckel and Jones have made a praiseworthy effort to cover every aspect of infantrymen from the days of King Philip to training, campaigning, marching and fighting along with the rest of the army that accompanied Alexander the Great for more than ten years. They tell about the enlistment of the men, their appearance and equipment (sarissa, shield, body armor), and the overall conditions of service, i.e. their pay, rewards, promotions and punishments - not be taken lightly! Most interesting of all is to read about the phalanx, a formation that never failed Alexander. Most revealing to me anyway is the chapter about the splitting up in pezhetairoi, asthetairoi, hypaspistai (regular hypaspists) argyraspids, hypaspistai basilikoi (royal hypaspists), taxeis and chiliarchia.

This is a rather small booklet but packed with interesting analysis of every single aspect, with referrals to ancient writers, and plenty of pictures and drawings to clearly illustrate it all. In the back we find a nice glossary for the Greek words as well as museums and websites for those who want to dig in further.

In short, a must for everyone who is interested in the campaigns of Alexander the Great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Macedonian Phalanx 1 July 2008
Format:Paperback
I was really looking forward to this book as there have been hundreds of titles on Alexander the Great, but no basic non-scholarly introduction to the Macedonian infantryman.
Waldemar Heckel is an expert on the Hellenistic World and a long time researcher on the Macedonian military. He brings his deep knowledge of the subject to this title, and is assisted by Ryan Jones, a Classical historian, experimental archaeologist and reenactor.

This title gives you a step by step guide to world of Alexander's warriors. It begins by setting the scene of the time, giving a brief overview of the political and military situation of Alexander's time, along with a chronological timeline.
Heckel then covers the average life of the Macedonian soldier, from his enlistement and training, to his appearance and equipment, through to his conditions of service and his beliefs and motivations.
Despite being a short book, the authors manage to pack in a lot of information and topics such as army punishment, reward and promotions, as well as organization, numbers and terminology.

The artist, Christa Hook, provides eight pages of colour plates, of varying degrees of quality. Some of the pictures are well drawn, while others are muddy and lacking in detail, which is a shame considering that the publisher states that unrivaled detail in their reconstructions is one of the aims of the 'Warrior' series.

The book finishes with a look at websites and bibliography, as well as a guide to relevant museums which house ancient Macedonian equipment. A glossary is also included to assist the readers with unfamiliar terms.

Overall, this a good book, although it didn't live up to my expectations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD OVERVIEW OF ALEXANDER'S ELITE INFANTRY 26 Nov 2013
By Trajan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
A good narrative let down by poor artwork, still it fills in a lot of gaps from previous works.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly good 10 May 2013
By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a mostly good Osprey title from an author (Waldemar Heckel) who is one of the leading specialists on Alexander and the Successors. The introduction, which manages to summarizes some three centuries of Greek history and warfare in a bit less than four pages while mentioning the main points is quite remarkable and impressive.
The sections mentioning the living conditions of Alexander's infantrymen and the huge hardships that they bore when following him across the Persian Empire and back again are well described and not often mentioned in other books. They seem to have largely drawn from a book written by a French historian (Paul Faure) published some thirty years ago and focusing on the daily life of Alexander's army. Contrary to some other Osprey titles on the Macedonians (those of Nick Sekunda, in particular), this title is more balanced, more complete and also includes a piece on the phalanx in battle, rather than focusing almost exclusively on organization, structure and numbers.

There are, however, a number of issues with this title. While these are more "glitches" than major problems, there are sufficient in number to have a negative impact and reduce the quality of this title.

A first set of problems is suggested by the subtitle of this book which is about "Alexander's elite infantryman". This infantryman did not "come out of the blue" and was not raised and trained by Alexander, but by his father Philip, but the author has comparatively little to see about Philippe and even less about the Macedonian infantry's considerable and mostly stellar performances during his reign.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mighty Fine By Me. 19 May 2006
By Hannibal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading an initial review of this book on this site I was a bit hesitant to waste my $15 but I went for it anyway. I am sure glad that I took a chance. The book is excellent. Very little has been written about Alexander's foot soldiers (cavalry was his specialty) and what exists from 2000+ years ago is plagued with contradictions and inaccuracies. It is nice to see a modern text try to explain/sort out some of the confusion. I wish the book would have been longer- maybe a future project for the author?

I found nothing wrong with the artwork and was pleasantly suprised with some of the details which were visible in her plates. Angus McBride is my favorite artist with Osprey but I would easy purchase another book with Ms Hooks illustrations.

My only complaint is the way that the author-and many other historians- ends his history of the Macedonian foot soldier with their defeat by a Roman army at Pydna in 168BC. The Macedonian phalanx of 168BC was a shadow of the great formation that Philip and Alexander used to conquer the known world. The 150 years between Alexander and the Romans was not well spent by Macedon and the Diodochi and a decay of tactics and improvements took place. Alexander the Great was a military visionary with a flexible force always in flux. He adapted his forces to meet the demands of both the enemy and the terrain. Others "borrowed" his armies, lands, and power but the real Macedonian warrior died in the summer of 323 when Alexander passed away in Babylon.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oppossing opinions 19 May 2006
By R. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For many of us who are fans of the Osprey series books, Angus Mcbride's uninspired illustrations in the previous Macedonian books are thankfully updated in this volume on the subject. Contray to earlier criticisms, Christa Hook's illustrations give a realistic feel to the images drawn. They are very life like, and are exactly what I was hoping for in the illustrations on the Macedonian imfantry.

I for one am glad to see that the old school, blocky and oftimes cartoony images of McBride's are being updated. I am not an illusrator, but my work with ancient arms and armour has made me long desire a decent representation of the equipment used by the Macedonian soldiers. I hope that people will also attmept to read the body text to draw a conclusion on the material covered, as well to better understand what it is the plates are illustrating. There are many new ideas about the function and effectiveness of Alexander's army presented in this volume that are sure to please and perhaps spark debate amoung lovers of macedonian arms.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The elite 30 Mar 2007
By Nadia Azumi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book that details the infantry,as well as the entire history, and army of Alexander the Great.The pictures and explanation of the army,the sarissas,the terminology,not to mention the physical impact is very well written.

You can certainly visualize the battles and what the soldiers went through looking and reading at this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long-needed book 29 Mar 2007
By K. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It seems as though most sources on the Alexandrian conquests focus on Alexander's enemies, Alexander's cavalry, or Alexander. The infantry rarely receive any attention, but as in any army, they formed the backbone of his fighting forces and he could not have waged his wars without them. This book focuses solely on them, detailing their origins, tactics, and even their personal lives. This book also helps to clear up the identity of the hypastists. Christa Hook's plates are also wonderful.
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly good 10 May 2013
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a mostly good Osprey title from an author (Waldemar Heckel) who is one of the leading specialists on Alexander and the Successors. The introduction, which manages to summarizes some three centuries of Greek history and warfare in a bit less than four pages while mentioning the main points is quite remarkable and impressive.
The sections mentioning the living conditions of Alexander's infantrymen and the huge hardships that they bore when following him across the Persian Empire and back again are well described and not often mentioned in other books. They seem to have largely drawn from a book written by a French historian (Paul Faure) published some thirty years ago and focusing on the daily life of Alexander's army. Contrary to some other Osprey titles on the Macedonians (those of Nick Sekunda, in particular), this title is more balanced, more complete and also includes a piece on the phalanx in battle, rather than focusing almost exclusively on organization, structure and numbers.

There are, however, a number of issues with this title. While these are more "glitches" than major problems, there are sufficient in number to have a negative impact and reduce the quality of this title.

A first set of problems is suggested by the subtitle of this book which is about "Alexander's elite infantryman". This infantryman did not "come out of the blue" and was not raised and trained by Alexander, but by his father Philip, but the author has comparatively little to see about Philippe and even less about the Macedonian infantry's considerable and mostly stellar performances during his reign. It is rather revealing, for instance, that the chronology goes straight from 358 BC to 338, therefore skipping most of Philip's reign and, more importantly, the numerous and victorious wars against all of his neighbours through which he forged the highly experienced infantry force that his son was to take with him to Asia. It is in this sense that Heckel's subtitle qualifying hypaspistes and pezhetairoi of "elite" is justified, but he does not make this point explicitly. Instead, he clearly indicates that the former were Guard infantry that received the toughest jobs and were therefore elite, while the latter were line infantry drawn partly from herdsmen of Upper Macedonia and partly from peasants of Lower Macedonia.

A second type of issue is that author does not explicitly acknowledge and treat as such the assumptions he makes. One such assumption is the claim that the pezhetairoi regiments that Alexander took with him to Asia were the contingents raised from Upper Macedonia. While plausible, and even probable, this argument seems to rest solely on the origins of their aristocratic commanding officers. A similar issue arises with regards to the infantry's equipment, with most elements (types of breastplates, if any, length of the sarrissa, unit organization etc...) having been hotly debated for decades (and often still hotly debated).

Another set of "glitches", perhaps more serious, can be found in the section describing the phalanx in battle. It could have been interesting to include and discuss Alexander's first battles as King of Macedonia in Europe and the performance of the phalanx against enemies other than the Persians (Granicus, Issos and Gaugamela) and the Indians (battle of the Hydaspes). The latter battle is not really described. The author does not clearly show what role the infantry played, although some units (including the hypaspistes under Seleucos, if I remember correctly) did confront Poros' elephants. One can even wonder to what extent it was worth including this battle at all in this volume since the author states that it was "primarily a cavalry contest".

In all fairness, the author does mention quite extensively one the main reasons for these "glitches": the nature and limitations of the sources, with only fragments of first-hand contemporary or near-contemporary sources remaining and most of the remaining sources being written centuries later, in particular the Roman ones. The other reason which prevents this title from being as good as it could have been is the usual one: insufficient space which prevents the author from being comprehensive.

I also had mixed feelings with regards to the plates. The choice of topics and the balance between plates focused on equipment, plates showing battle scenes and plates focused on military life scenes are rather good. However, having a plate showing one of the most prominent events of Alexander's campaign against Thracians in 336/335 BC only makes the absence of any text on his European campaigns more keenly felt. Finally, I have never appreciated Christa Hook's persistence in blurring the faces of the characters presented, although this is, of course, entirely a matter of personal preference.
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