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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Alexander the Great
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on 25 September 2016
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on 17 April 2010
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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on 27 September 2017
For several years, I used Robin Lane Fox’s Alexander the Great as a reference book but it is not until now that I really read it cover to cover. It turned out to be a most captivating experience.
Before writing down my own impressions on this book, I looked at previous comments made by other purchasers on Amazon and I am truly appalled to see it qualified as “very badly written” and “hard to understand”. This is not a novel and cannot be compared to Manfredi’s tales. On the contrary, this is a serious work in which Robin Lane Fox put his entire heart and soul, together with his thorough knowledge of one of the most enigmatic persons who ever lived.
The book is not a quick history of Alexander’s life and conquests but an in-depth study of his actions set against the background of the world he lived in and to which he had to adapt time and again as he met other civilizations and foreign tribes during his march east.
While the author follows Alexander’s steps, he often stops to analyze the whole context and to place the story against the background which the king encountered. It is so easy to judge Alexander based on our own experiences but to judge him in the frame of so many new elements and circumstances is a totally different matter.
For instance, Robin Lane Fox takes the time to explain the Macedonian military machine and armory as put into place by Philip, Alexander’s father. He does the same for Persia where he highlights the court system and the complexity of its government – most of it not unknown to Alexander but an aspect that is more often than not skipped in our western literature. He explains Persian customs and court protocol, including the meaning of being the “King of kings”. He also reminds us of the fact that Alexander had no maps and no more directions to guide him than what Herodotus had written in his Histories (something like the maps of the stars used by the first astronauts flying to the moon in the 1960s).
Although some parts of Alexander’s march east are passed by quickly, the author certainly takes the time to discuss the main events. There is, for instance, Siwah, where he not only describes the voyage and Alexander’s reception by the priests but also the significance of the god Amon and the idea behind the title “son of Amon”. Lane Fox also analyses the battles of Issus and Gaugamela including Alexander’s preparations but also looks at the tactics from Darius’ point of view. The Philotas’ Affair implicating his father, Parmenion, as well as the conspiracy of the Pages and the murder of Cleitus are discussed extensively and weighed up against the circumstances and the irrefutable evidence with which Alexander was confronted. Other battles and sieges, especially the attack of the Aornos Rock, the decisive Battle on the Hydaspes and the Mallian fight in which Alexander is deadly wounded are clearly explained with all pros and cons. And let us not forget the mutiny of Alexander’s Macedonians at the Hyphasis and at Opis – how masterly the king addressed his men in both cases.
It is clear that Robin Lane Fox has a great admiration for Alexander and it shows but he also approaches this great king without prejudice and with a great effort to merely analyzing the facts. Considering that Alexander covered almost 20,000 kilometers in eight years coping with battles and sieges, crossing the widest rivers and the highest mountains, taking the responsibility to feed and care for one hundred thousand of people if we include the baggage train, Robin Lane Fox did an extremely good job to present Alexander as a human being, king, general and faithful friend.
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on 1 October 2016
Thank you so much, the book was in very good state.
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on 23 February 2014
This is the first biography of Alexander the Great that I have read in 3 years. The author is, undoubtedly, well versed in the life and events of Alexander. He evidently has researched and found many sources, both contemporary and modern. The only thing that I found a bit annoying is the repeated mension to Alexander's homosexuality, which I don't be believe to be the case. Other than that the book serves serves aw a unique insight. However, sometimes it can be tiring as some themes are overanalyzed.
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on 2 October 2014
It a long book and the writing style (some sentences that are a paragraph long that you have to re-read to understand) doesn't make it an easy read. But you do get engrossed in the detail and feel like you are following AtG in his conquests. You marvel at what he achieved at such a young age and in such a short period of time. The author explains well the extent to which AtG's history has to be built from inferences and speculation rather than hard evidence. He portrays him as a ruthless but heroic; he could quite easily have shown him to be a blood thirsty thug rampaging through those ancient lands with his militarised band of pirates. I found the book hard-going but enjoyable.
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on 22 October 2016
Robin Lane Fox, has spent all of his professional career...and it shows! He dumbs nothing down, therefore you the reader are expected to keep up. At the time the book was penned, his theories were both controversial and ground-breaking, and have divided and confounded, would-be Alexander the
Great scholars and professors alike ever since. As intense and thorough, as it is, insightful and thought provoking.
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on 26 April 2015
Very refreshing take and sad that so little can really be seen of this remarkable man. How desperate we all want to know him. His charisma still holds us - like a God !
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on 6 November 2014
still reading
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on 2 June 2017
Lane Fox's prose style is evocative and his English is superb - an Oxbridge level of erudition and articulacy. For me the most compelling aspect of the Alexandrian narrative involved his venture in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan [Sogdia] when Macedonian soldiers set foot on the Chinese border and beyond near the Pamir Mountains - startling ambition. Alexander may have fingered Chinese silk in these regions although Lane Fox slightly underplays these aspects.
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