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Alexander the Great

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  520 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror. The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders st ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published December 23rd 2010)
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'Aussie Rick'
Apr 15, 2014 'Aussie Rick' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-warfare
I have been meaning to read Philip Freeman’s book on Alexander the Great since early 2011 when I purchased a copy after reading his book on Julius Caesar. His account of Caesar was a very enjoyable read which led me to purchase Alexander the Great. Although it has taken me three years to open this book up and turn the first page I can say that the delay was not due to the quality of the book and the author’s writing, just me flicking from book to book as most of us do.

This story of Alexander is
Feb 27, 2015 Fortunr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history_ancient
This is a nice biography, historically plausible and reasonably accurate, of one of the most ambitious men and brilliant military commanders in human history, Alexander the Great.

I personally think that there are very few historical characters who are more deserving of the appellation "The Great" (and I don't honestly care if this is not politically correct in the current environment, where it appears fashionable to condemn or treat with disdain the feats of whoever, with modern eyes, is consid
Jan 03, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being an Egyptologist, and I'm ashamed to say, I really didn't have a good, solid idea about who Alexander the Great was beyond his having been a young, determined Macedonian lad who established a vast empire during the 330s B.C.E., the likes of which had never been accomplished by subsequent rulers of similar age. I had known only of one of his military companions, Ptolemy, and his descendents.

I'm also a novelist and am finishing up my first historical fiction, which involves a bit of backgroun
Sep 07, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classicist Philip Freeman writes really, really well. And unlike some biographers of Alexander the Great I've read, he gets out of the way of his subject. Alexander the Great and what motivated him remain elusive to me, but it's not Freeman's fault: I don't really understand the psychology of glory through conquest, or a man, as Freeman notes, "who conquered much of the ancient world simply because he could." Still, it is a very compelling story, and Freeman wraps it up with a really interesting ...more
Sep 19, 2014 Jerome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, heroic portrait of Alexander. Freeman gives us a vivid portrait of an intelligent and decisive Alexander, a man of learning as well as a man of action, and a lively narrative of Alexander’s campaigns.

As a student of Aristotle, Alexander quickly mastered the works of Homer, Herodotus, and much else; he studied anything that he thought would help him fulfill his destiny as a man of victory. He was, of course, a brilliant tactician, and a conqueror above all.

Freeman gives us an insigh
Philip Freeman crafts Alexander's story as a captivating novel. The description of his long campaign is interspersed by curious events, facts and legends of the lands he travels and interesting reflections on his character, all of which make Alexander's figure come to life. Yes, he was a great general, a shrewd politician, but also a man, with human faults despite all his glory. Highly recommended.
Deanna Against Censorship
The author opens with a story of three messengers arriving at approximately the same time with messages for Phillip II of Macedonia. The first presented a message telling of a military victory by one of Phillip's generals. The second message told of a horse sponsored by Philip winning first prize in the Olympic games. The third announced the birth of Phillip's son, Alexander.

...Phillip issued a decree to honor the good news he valued above all others - he commanded a special silver coin be stru
Dec 11, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though there are hundreds of studies of his man, now the classicist and historian Freeman writes another, saying “most important, I wanted to write a biography of Alexander that is first and foremost a story... accessible to those who love history.” With that preamble, Freeman’s book brings to life a remarkable human being of unique abilities and accomplishments who lived only from July 356 to June 323 B.C. This is a book based on years of scholarship and yet written skillfully for a general aud ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulous historical retelling of one of history's most fascinating lives. As with Freeman's earlier offering, ""Julius Caesar"", the source material is compelling enough on its own but he crafts his story in such a way as to keep the reader interested--regardless of one's previous knowledge. In short, Freeman writes an eminently engaging narrative for the historian as well as the casual reader. An excellent read for anyone even remotely interested in the exploits of Alexander the Great.
Taylor Kniphfer
Aug 23, 2012 Taylor Kniphfer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The greatest book that I have yet read of the warrior-king and conqueror, who was and is-as Freeman says-the absolute embodiment of human ambition. He was a man who wanted passionatley to rule the world. While we may condemn him for the deaths he caused, I admire him as a man who set out to achieve the impossible. And he did.
Cliff Riseborough
Excellent book about quite possibly the greatest military commander in the history of man. And not just in terms of brilliance in battle, but also in the sheer force of will with which he could lead mean into any situation. Had most suggested some of his more audacious plans, they would have been laughed at and ignored. Yet Alexander wasn't. He truly is one of those rare men whose men likely would have followed him through the Gates of Hell.

And of course, his early death presents us with one of
Mar 27, 2011 Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
OK, on the one hand, this is an accessible book on the life of one of the greatest general-kings of the ancient world. On the other hand, I don't feel like I learned a whole lot about why Alexander was the way he was. Good biography should make you understand why the person under study was the way they were, not just perform a recitative of the person's life. In short, this book brings little to no depth to Alexander.

Personally, I am glad I read this as my knowledge of Alexander was a bit spotty
Apr 21, 2012 Marj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved books about Alexander the Great. Visiting the Plains of Issus where he defeated the Persian king Darius was a high point of my trip to Turkey. This book goes into quite a bit of detail about his battles and his skill as a general.
Nathan Sharp
Good biography of Alexander the Great for the casually interested reader. Provides a good overview of what Alexander did and explaining some of the nuances of Alexander's time and place without going into extreme detail or analysis.
Catherine Woodman
Very readable biography of the best military mind of the ancient world. He spread Greek culture throughout the known world at the time, affecting us to this day. Even I could begin to comprehend his genius.
Mar 07, 2015 Price rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Enjoyed the book. The steady narrative of events did not get bogged down in detail. Alexander's achievements at such a young age are incomprehensible. The multiple military campaigns, the expansive distances covered in such short time, his military brilliant military strategies all speak to a man of incredible stature and wisdom.

Oddly, his love of battle and conquering nations and towns was insatiable. The mounting number of people killed and slaughtered during his lifetime did not seem to deter
Jul 26, 2012 Dani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read a ton of history or biographies. This one is entertaining, but with this life, how can you go wrong? The details of life lived in that time are fascinating.
Tarun Sachdeva
Nov 22, 2015 Tarun Sachdeva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very curious and anxious to know more about Alexander the Great after I read Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most intelligent, well read and ambitious king the world has ever seen. I really enjoyed the whole journey through the book which presents the incidents from different unbiased accounts wherever there is some ambiguity or exaggeration by the original writers. This book definitely encourages to read more about Greek and Persian kings and I am enticed ...more
Uttam Desai
Sep 04, 2014 Uttam Desai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing biography of an outstanding military commander
Kelly Scanlon
With such a large amount of books about Alexander in the world, it can be hard to bring something fresh to the table. I believe Freeman tried to do something different in writing more of a narrative than a biography, and while parts of this book were entertaining, it's hard to believe what he writes.

I have taken classes on Alexander during undergrad, and while this in no way makes me an Alexander scholar, I did notice some things that Freeman should have brought more attention to, mainly how abs
The history of Alexander is one of those instances in which a quick summary actually conveys most of the historical information. The King Alexander of Macedon conquers the Persian Empire in a decade and gives rise to the Hellenization of most of the known world. The fascinating part of this story is in the details.

I picked this book on the author's promise: "[...]I wanted to write a biography of Alexander that is first and foremost a story." [page xxi] In this Freeman doesn't succeeds completel
This book was a great introduction to 'the Great' himself, Alexander, and it was with an appropriately modest statement from Freeman that that would be all that he would claim from it.
I myself didn't know a lot about Alexander apart from the size of his empire and his impact on the ancient world, so in seeing this on display as a new scholarly addition to the history of Alexander definitely helps lift Freeman out of the dust of former studies of the Macedonian king. One has to evaluate though w
This biography makes for a quick and light reading, probably aimed more to a general audience than to readers who already know the topic.
My main issue with it is the lack of a good analysis of the sources, which I feel is a huge point in any attempt to write and analyse Alexander's life. Even worse, Freeman makes almost seems sources are not an issue at all, nor he points out why he picks from one instead of another.
May 26, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost didn't read this book - Peter Green's biography of Alexander turned me into a reader of history back in high school and is a book I have read probably a dozen times I like it so much. Prof. Freeman's book would have a hard time comparing to Green's if only for that fact. Add in that Prof. Freeman was one of my professors that I liked back in the day, it really seemed unfair to force him into that comparison.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the Freeman's treatment and work. While
Aug 25, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read over the ancient sources for Alexander during school, I agree with some of Professor Freeman's critics/reviewers that this book makes an excellent introduction to the the subject of Alexander the Great, particularly for those with a passion for history that grows and matures over time. Some may be disappointed in the seemingly militaristic nature of the book and other records, but they need to remember that the vast majority of the written records or archaeological records that are l ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! It is probably the first non-fiction biography type book that I've ever read all the way through, and I couldn't put it down! Ever since, I've been pulled away from my fiction addiction and have been on a biography kick.
Terry DeKalb
Jan 25, 2016 Terry DeKalb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful Read

Brings Alexander and his times to life. Great descriptions of his personality, war strategies and all the historical characters who were on the world stage at the same time.
Michael Baranowski
Alexander the Great was a very impressive general, but there wasn't room for much else in his life. Freeman does a good job with what he's got to work with but the end result isn't exactly thrilling.
Aug 26, 2014 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I finally see why the story of Alexander the Great has lasted through the centuries. Philip Freeman does an excellent job of bringing Alexander to life. There are lots of little details and stories to help the reader along and plenty of action without it being nothing but a war story. I really enjoyed this book.
Masen Production
Nov 03, 2013 Masen Production rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites
Philip Freeman is a no-nonsense chronolicer. I first experienced his writing in Julius Caesar & was totally in awe of his simplistic presentation of the 'ultimo maximus" (my take on Julius Caesar)

Carrying in the same vein his book on Alexander blasts myths & in his style presents the various versions of incidents for us to choose from. His unbiased composition of western hemispheres greatest general ever is truly commendable. From the Rise of Philips (Alexanders father) to the demise of
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I teach Classics and Celtic studies at Luther College in the beautiful little town of Decorah, Iowa. I did my doctoral work at Harvard and taught at Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis before coming to Luther to help run the Classics department. I love teaching and see my writing as an extension of my work in the classroom. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I enjoyed writi ...more
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“As he explained to his officers and men, the war against Persia could not be finished until the shah, as the Persians called their king, was mat, or finished. The endgame had to be shah mat, a Persian phrase that would evolve in time into checkmate.” 0 likes
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