In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great Paperback – 7 Oct 2004
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More than two millennia ago, Alexander the Great changed the course of human history in an astonishingly short time: He acceded to the throne of Macedon at the age of just 20, and by the time he was 30 he had conquered the known world. At 32 he was dead. His 22,000-mile journey to India and back opened up connections between the East and West, and even today its traces can be found throughout Asia-- in cultures, legends, place names and traditions. Filmmaker and journalist Michael Wood has retraced Alexander's journey--by car, horse, camel, boat and even on foot-- resulting in the engaging In the Footsteps of Alexander. (He travelled with a small, hardy film crew, and together they also produced a PBS documentary of the same name.) Wood's text vividly brings Alexander's times to life, as he mixes accounts of his own adventures and encounters with the story of Alexander's journey. Accompanying the text is a well-chosen assortment of maps, photographs and reproductions of artwork and artefacts. Alexander aficionados and neophytes alike will find much to inform and delight them in this handsome volume. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It has to be said that this book is rather thin, and I was often left feeling that some of the details had been glossed over, perhaps in an effort to appeal to a wider audience.
It's very interesting to read about some of the facts that Wood uncovered on his journey, and some of the Alexander legends that have been preserved by local people brought the story to life very well, but perhaps Wood was too influenced by local people who regard Alexander as a murderous devil, as his description of Alexander focusses far too much on his atrocities, alcoholism and egotism to the detriment of his generalship. Clearly, Alexander was a despicable tyrant, but his military achievements were enormous, and didn't get the attention they deserved here.
On the whole, the book is enjoyable, and well worth reading for anyone with an interest in the subject, particularly if it's the first book on Alexander that you read. However, I was disappointed in how far short of the author's other work this book fell. Michael Wood is a gifted writer with an ability to bring his subject to life, and he is clearly a fine historian, but I wonder if this book was written to a tight deadline. I recommend "In Search of the Trojan War" far more than "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great".
As history, the book is weaker, the military side of the campaigns is very understated, although the attempted psychological profiles of Alexander and Hephaistion are surely not too wide of the mark.
I sometimes had the feeling that Wood considered his own voyage to be almost as remarkable achievement as Alexander's; and there was a general sense of disapproval of drinking and violence which in the columns of the Guardian or in a BBC book is surely not out of place, but considering the norms of the Hellenistic age should perhaps be judged less censoriously.
I read both editions side by side and compared the text but found only a small and relatively minor number of changes by the author in updating the first edition, so kept the first edition and gave away the paperback. For example, comments on "war crimes in Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Bosnian War" are updated to "... Cambodia, and the Iraqi Wars." Another example is Wood's adding the fact that the gigantic Buddhas in Afghanistan were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. There is one instance of virtually a whole paragraph being rewritten (about his journey back to the Nile from Siwa), but it is not known why this is so. Having undertaken the same exercise for Wood's book `In Search of the Trojan War' (review available on Amazon), it is clear that there are not so many changes between editions on Alexander as there have been for the former, but this is no doubt due to there not having been any major new breakthroughs in Alexander studies as there have been at Troy.
The book consists of a prologue, a prelude, and six parts; it is rounded off with a short epilogue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received Michael's Wood book " In the footsteps of Alexander the Great" quite late than I expected but in a very good condition... Read morePublished 5 months ago by marilena veloudi
The item is as it was described by the seller and is of perfect quality.Published 22 months ago by Cameron Hunter
This makes sense of the whole story.
The military reasons for events, the surprises, the hardships and the cruelty are all explained. Read more
Wood's intellectual and knowledgeable slant on this epic of history paints a glorious and tragic tale in the ancient world. Read morePublished on 24 Jan. 2014 by Dave
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