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The Nature of Alexander Paperback – 1 Mar 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1st American Ed edition (1 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039473825X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394738253
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

The acclaimed biography of Alexander the Great.

About the Author

MARY RENAULThas written over a dozen novels, has had her work adapted for radio, stage, and screeen, and has been the subject of documentaries and biographies. She is as widely known for her forthright treatment of gay relationships as she isher historical restructions of ancient Greece. She was born in London and educated at Oxford. She then trained as a nurse, where she met her lifelong partner Julie Mullard.After during World War II, she and Mullard settled in South Africa and traveled considerably in Africa and Greece. It was at this time that she began writing her historical novels, including"The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, "and"The Persian Boy." The biography"The Nature of Alexander"is one of her only non-fiction books. She died in Cape Town in 1983."


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In her study of the nature of Alexander the Great, clearly the greatest of generals and conquerors, Mary Renault has contributed a much-needed chapter to the study of the man. Most biographies simply focus on his achievements, while "The Nature of Alexander" has eschewed those facts, largely, to tell of his "nature," what made him do what he did, referring to pitched battles and skirmishes in only the most necessary detail. Other books (like Arrian's work), describe in full detail the battles. Mary Renault has given us what, in my opinion, is much more valuable: insights into the great man's personality. It is clear from this work that Alexander would have achieved greatness in any walk of life. Where it errs is on the side of romanticism. She does, however, an admirable job in presenting his character as free from this as any have ever done. Astounding.
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By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
Last October, I read and reviewed Peter Green's biography of Alexander the Great, ALEXANDER OF MACEDON, 356-323 B.C., to which I gave five stars. It was subsequently suggested to me that Green's book was a "hatchet job", and that I should read Mary Renault's THE NATURE OF ALEXANDER for a more balanced view.
Renault's volume is very readable. In factual substance, it seems to my unscholarly eyes to be pretty much the same as Green's. I certainly didn't learn significantly more about Alexander from the former than the latter, though that portion of Renault's narrative concerning Alexander's death was fleshed out a bit more. Renault, however, strikes me as a much more sympathetic biographer. Whether this adds more truth to her version is, and will remain, indeterminable by me.
In balance, I think I would choose and recommend Green's biography for the simple reason that he includes over a dozen route maps and battle plans that help the reader put Alexander's accomplishments in better perspective. Renault provides none at all, and the absence of such is a significant omission, in my opinion. Alexander led his Macedonians from the north of Greece to the western border of the Indian subcontinent - the edge of his known world - and almost all the way back again. Twenty-five thousand miles in eleven years! It isn't until you see this plotted on a map of the region that the remarkable accomplishment can be appreciated.
THE NATURE OF ALEXANDER reinforced my opinion that Alexander was the greatest military commander of all time and the most charismatic and successful leader of men who's ever lived. At one point, just prior to marching homeward from India, Alexander was gravely wounded by an arrow that penetrated his lung.
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Format: Paperback
Renault's book probably isn't for the serious student of either Alexander or Hellenism, but it is a fascinating book for all that. Written by the novelist who wrote the best trilogy on Alexander, this is her supposed attempt to 'prove' her history was correct, but leaving that argument aside, it is still a fascinating read. Renault's interpretation of Alexander is unremittingly romantic, and yet she still paints an irresistable picture of a man, a king and a commander that I at least want to believe in. For the hard-core historian, you'll probably want to avoid this but for anyone else, read it and be enthralled.
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Format: Paperback
Make no mistake, this author loved Alexander the Great. The author shows excellent historical knowledge of ancient greek civilization (as her many excellent historical novels will attest) and she presents interesting theories on why Alexander did what he did, from his perspective. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Alexander the Great. This is the third book on Alexander written by Renault, the first being Fire from Heaven on his unknown early life, and the Persian Boy, which covers him up until his death from a eunuch's perspective.
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Format: Paperback
Renault's bio on Alexander the Great reads more like a novel than a dry history of the Macedonian King. Although it may not quench the thirst of fact-hungry readers, it focuses on Alex's achievements and failures while keeping his psychology and personality in the foreground. I still haven't found anything comparable to it!
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Format: Paperback
A very romantic account of Alexander, in which everything he did is viewed through a rose tinted filter. Mary Renault can obviously see no wrong in the famous conquerer, her vision of him at times borders on hero worship.
Having said that, this is a very enjoyable & well written book & was actually one of the first books I ever read on the subject.
If you want an in depth serious look at Alexander & his times then it is probably best to avoid this book, but as an introduction to the subject I can recommend it unreservedly.
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Format: Paperback
Since I first encountered Mary Renault at the age of 15, (at a difficult time in my life - 45 years ago), I have been entranced by most of her fiction, but I've always found her Alexander trilogy bitter and difficult to read. I believe The Nature Of Alexander is her only venture into non-fiction, and is the fruit of her own personal determination to research and write, in spite of all the difficulties she faced. Perhaps only a lifelong devotee can truly appreciate it.
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