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Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography

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Until recently, popular biographers and most scholars viewed Alexander the Great as a genius with a plan, a romantic figure pursuing his vision of a ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography

Overall customer rating: 4.500
dekesolomon

A good read, but --

by dekesolomon on Nov 12, 2009

Highly readable, fact-packed, thoroughly sourced history marred only by Mr. Green's obvious disgust with Alexander's personal behavior and habits. I do think it a shame that Macedonians of 350 BC did not enjoy the benefits of our modern moral rectitude, but I also think it a shame that most all of the things Macedonians then enjoyed are today called 'crimes'. Thus we suffer now just as they did then because so far from improving human nature we have merely criminalized its expression. Then there is the fact that modern biographies of Alexander (and other ancient figures) suffer from a lack of primary source material. Barring earth-shaking new archaeological or literary discoveries, today's historian is forced back upon the same secondary sources that thousands of other historians have used for thousands of years -- many of them written hundreds of years after the events of which they treat. To put it as rudely as possible: A great deal of what we claim to know about Alexander and other such men is ancient hearsay based upon hearsay that is yet more ancient. Try to use such evidence in a modern criminal court; see how quickly you get thrown out of court. There is no reason that the court of opinion should operate differently. It seems to me, then, that all anyone today can know of Alexander was written long ago. The record will probably never change significantly. Therefore the only reason to study what we know about Alexander today is to improve one's own command of ancient language and literature. Condemning the man anew for this or that character defect is like adding yet another sentence of life-without-parole to the rap sheet of a man who is already serving the first of a dozen such. Solomon sez: Peter Green is a good historian who needs to get a life.

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