Alexander the Great
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Alexander the Great

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  446 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Paul Cartledge, one of the world’s foremost scholars of ancient Greece, illuminates the brief but iconic life of Alexander (356-323 BC), king of Macedon, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and founder of a new world order.

Alexander's legacy has had a major impact on military tacticians, scholars, statesmen, adventurers, authors, and filmmakers. Cartledge brilliantly evokes...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2004)
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As the goodreads blurb states, Cartledge is one of the leading experts on ancient Greece. He provides an accessible, not-to-anachronistic biography of one of history's most interesting men. I don't know what the other reviewers are referring to. This book was meant to be an introduction to Alexander the Great. So, of course it's not a detailed discussion. Finishing this book will make you more conversant on Alexander's life and times than probably 95% of the people you meet at the water cooler (...more
Rick Davis
First of all, Paul Cartledge is one of the world’s foremost experts on ancient Greece, and is an extremely careful and scholarly writer. As such, I knew before I even began that this book would be great. This book is not actually a biography of Alexander the Great in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it is an introduction to the historiography of Alexander the Great. I made sure this summer to read a narrative biography of Alexander so that I would be prepared to read this book, and I’m...more
There is a lot of information in this book, but so much of it was repeated, I kept thinking I had inadvertently lost my place and was re-reading passages. I also thought there was a lot of needless focus on Alexander's sexuality. In places it was relevant - for example when reading about whether his marriages were strictly politically motivated or not and whether his relationships with certain other men were more than platonic, etc. However, plenty of people are interested in little else, and th...more
Jesse Broussard
I have a request to make. Could all of you "scientifically respectable" authors who decide to, for the sake of being on the cutting edge of whatever you're writing about, just make a statement in the beginning of your book. The statement should be along the lines of "Just to let my readers know, I hate God, and I don't believe in Him, so all dates will be marked as 'Before Common Era' and 'Common Era.' Just so you know." And how is replacing the Latin "anno domini" with the English "common era"...more
James Nolle
Alexander the Great by Paul Cartledge was an ok book as far as biographies go. One thing that i did not like was the fact that the author used long difficult to understand words. When i looked the words up i discovered that these complicated words were entirely uneccesary and the synonyms were actually very basic easier to understand words. I did like the great detail the author went into though. He was not biased at all and presented both sides to all the controversial topics of Alexander's lif...more
Very good biography of Alexander the Great. Brings a lot of questions and speculations to the forefront while trying to walk the middle road about the man himself and his character. The author does a good job of maintaining his middle ground, not going into the 'Romantic Perfect Alexander' nor giving into the 'Evil Hitler-esque Alexander'. I would say though this book is not for beginners looking to learn about Alexander, it is written out of chronological order. Some parts are in order, others...more
Let's call this one 2.5 stars. I think I was hoping for more historical narrative than this book provided. It had the (appearance, at least of) scholarly neutrality (disinterest) that I seem to value in my bios, but too much of it was the post-narrative analysis phase. The author explicitly refrained from speculation--I just wish that his neutrality and focus on what is known and what can reasonably be inferred was done in a more traditional "story-ish" mode. Other reviewers are correct: don't h...more
Elliott Cross
A good book, although I found it repetitive at times. Also, it didn't delve into Alexander’s ‘psyche’ or motivation for conquest and immortal glory as much as I would have liked. It also seemed a tad ‘rushed’, as if the author needed to get the book finished in time to coincide with the release of Oliver Stone’s movie Alexander. I think it would have benefited tremendously from having each of the chapters (e.g. The Generalship of Alexander or The Divinity of Alexander) written by a different exp...more
Greg Pettit
I didn't finish this book because it wasn't what I was looking for. I was hoping for a basic narrative of Alexander the Great's life and battles. This book, though interesting, seemed to assume a famiarity with the subject matter that I just didn't have. I think the book probably contains some good insights, and it would probably be a good supplementary book. However, for me, it wasn't what I wanted.
I do wish I'd read the other reviews here before starting this. Although I'm sure it's a great work, this is not the book for someone coming new to Alexander and wanting to be informed. It is more 'how we know what we know' than 'what we know'. Since the other Alexander related book on my shelf is the Mary Renault trilogy I guess I will be going down the fictionalized route to learn about this figure.
This is a good look at Alexander that touches on a lot of aspects of his life and psyche without re-interpreting his entire history in relation to one thesis. Different historians have told Alexander's story through the prisms of alcoholism, sexuality, or even as a deity. Carledge touches on these topics without being controlled by them.
"May be the most accessible introduction in print....An amazingly solid, balanced, and evocative view of the man." � Washington Post Book World

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He needed to say at the beginning only once that there is very little definitive information on Alexander and his time, so this book is based on conjecture. As it is, I read this qualification so many times until I could not take it any more and gave it up.
The best source of information on the Macedon and his people. Great insight how he shaped the world but also the greek civilization. The author does a great job of describing past events and the reader must determine how they still impact us today.
Jul 28, 2007 kenneth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history nerds
It is pretty basic, but manages to cover all the most important dates and what not. I felt myself wondering why I devoted time to this book, because it does not delve deep enough but pretends like it has. Oh well.
This was an informative book on Alexander. I didn't like the author's style very much, but he was an expert on Alex, that's for sure. I learned a great deal that I never knew and that's what I was going for.
Paul Cartledge is a very good writer, and Alexander the Great is a fantastic subject, so you can't go wrong with this one. There are better biographies, I've been told.
Really interesting biography of Alexander the Great. I liked the impartiality of the author as this gave a more unbiased view of Alexander.
This is poorly written with bad and confusing transitions. I am putting it down and will look for a better bio on Alexander.
I learned a lot but it got tedious towards the end.
Well written short history on Alexander.
Repetitive. Academic.
Great history of Alexander
Matthew Sutton
great work of history.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
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Paul Anthony Cartledge is the 1st A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge University, having previously held a personal chair in Greek History at Cambridge. He was educated at St Paul's School & New College, Oxford where he took his 1st degree & completed his doctoral thesis in Spartan archaeology in 1975 under Prof. Sir John Boardman. After a period at the University of War...more
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