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Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. –…
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Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1991; vuoden 2013 painos)

– tekijä: Green (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
7511421,940 (3.98)12
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 united world. His dream was at times characterized as a benevolent interest in the brotherhood of man, sometimes as a brute interest in the exercise of power. Green, a Cambridge-trained classicist who is also a novelist, portrays Alexander as both a complex personality and a single-minded general, a man capable of such diverse expediencies as patricide or the massacre of civilians. Green describes his Alexander as "not only the most brilliant (and ambitious) field commander in history, but also supremely indifferent to all those administrative excellences and idealistic yearnings foisted upon him by later generations, especially those who found the conqueror, tout court, a little hard upon their liberal sensibilities." This biography begins not with one of the universally known incidents of Alexander's life, but with an account of his father, Philip of Macedonia, whose many-territoried empire was the first on the continent of Europe to have an effectively centralized government and military. What Philip and Macedonia had to offer, Alexander made his own, but Philip and Macedonia also made Alexander form an important context for understanding Alexander himself. Yet his origins and training do not fully explain the man. After he was named hegemon of the Hellenic League, many philosophers came to congratulate Alexander, but one was conspicuous by his absence: Diogenes the Cynic, an ascetic who lived in a clay tub. Piqued and curious, Alexander himself visited the philosopher, who, when asked if there was anything Alexander could do for him, made the famous reply, "Don't stand between me and the sun." Alexander's courtiers jeered, but Alexander silenced them: "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." This remark was as unexpected in Alexander as it would be in a modern leader. For the general reader, the book, redolent with gritty details and fully aware of Alexander's darker side, offers a gripping tale of Alexander's career. Full backnotes, fourteen maps, and chronological and genealogical tables serve readers with more specialized interests.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:Stenger
Teoksen nimi:Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.
Kirjailijat:Green (Tekijä)
Info:University of California Press (2013), Edition: First Edition, With a New Preface by the Author and a Foreword by Eugene N. Borza, 672 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:History ancient, History culture, Ancient Greece, History military, Biography

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography (tekijä: Peter Green) (1991)

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» Katso myös 12 mainintaa

Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 14) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I seem to join with other folks who end up loving "history" after reading Peter Green's biography of Alexander (356-323). Another current historian, Tom Holland, credits Green with awakening his understanding that fact (history) is more fascinating than fiction.

TBD... ( )
  keylawk | Jul 16, 2020 |
It wasn't until I was well into reading this book that I realised that I had actually read it about 45 years ago....more or less when the first edition was published. Nevertheless, it has repaid the re-reading. Tellingly, the biography is not titled "Alexander the Great"...which rather reflects Peter Green's take on Alexander as increasingly paranoid and megalomaniac but with undeniable energy, drive, inventiveness and charisma.
Green has written almost a "Boys Own" story about Alexander and I found it irresistible. Having just worked my way through a tedious history of the Ancient Near East (pre- Alexander), I was surprised at how good a story-teller Green is. (I guess that I should not be too surprised because I have similarly been impressed with his book...the Graeco Persian Wars......(or, when I first read it it was titled "The year of Salamis").
I hadn't fully appreciated the tensions that existed between Macedon and the southern Greek States and the massive achievements of Phillip....first of all in unifying the Macedonians and second in neutralising the Greeks. Nor had I appreciated that the "Greeks" rather regarded the Macedonians as uncouth barbarians. Nor did these tensions vanish overnight when Alexander embarked on his invasion of Asia....they continued for the whole of the 11 years that Alexander spent campaigning in Asia. And one has to admire Antipater, the loyal regent remaining behind in Macedonia.....though Alexander seemed prepared to dispose of him right at the end of his campaigns. But things were more or less set up for Alexander to just take up the reins on Phillip's death and launch into the invasion of Asia.
I was impressed with the detail Green provides about the economics of Alexander's military adventures. Clearly, an invasion doesn't come cheap and Alexander seemed to be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy almost until they reached Persepolis. Clearly he was not a good money manager and those of his staff who were, seemed basically to be corrupt or corruptible. Alexander himself (according to Green) didn't place too much stock on the trappings of wealth...his idea of a good time seemed to be a successful invasion and subduing of another kingdom or satrapy.
One cannot help but be impressed with the physicality of both Alexander and his men. The number of forced marches ...and marches overnight and marches in appalling weather conditions where they covered 50 miles or more in a day ...for days on end. I once walked 50 miles in about 13 hours ...and I don't think I ever quite recovered from it. But these guys were doing it with weapons and at the end of the march they could look forward to being in the front lines of a major battle with their lives at stake. Again and again, it seems Alexander was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat in terms of his military engagements. Never, doing the obvious. Always being able to inject the element of surprise into the battle..and always being able to rely on his Macedonians. They must have been formidable fighting force but one has to empathise with them once they had reached Persepolis and felt they had had enough. I'm amazed that any of them survived the whole journey given the number of battles they had to fight...let alone having to march for thousands of km carrying arms and other supplies. At least Alexander had his horse.
Green is not afraid to differ in his description of how some of the major battles were actually fought from the traditional descriptions: Granicus and Hydaspes for example. Though I notice modern Archeologists differ from Green about Alexander's education by Aristotle at the gardens of Mieza. Current scholarship (Smithsonian June 2020) puts the location of Alexander's education in a fighting and wresting gymnasium 10 km away. And more emphasis on learning to fight than on the finer points of philosophy.
Green gives us an interesting psychological portrait of Alexander: Told by his rather witch-like mother (Olympias) that he was sired by a god, believing that he had a destiny as a god ...reinforced apparently by a few oracles along the way. Combine this with a healthy does of (justifiable) paranoia.....after all, there was a lot of assassination "going around" ....including his own father .....and plenty of contenders for a power grab, plenty of potential enemies, hard to know who were your friends...and friends were always ready to be bought, plenty of people who's families or livelihoods Alexander had quashed.......and add to this his increasing megalomania as he became recognised as a god....and you have somebody who might be regarded as "complex".
Alexander was not a person to forget or forgive a slight .....had a formidable temper....increasingly over-consuming wine and adopted similar operating procedures to Ghengis Khan......relatively mild terms if a city surrendered immediately but ruthless and wanton destruction if they opposed him. Also prepared to go to enormous lengths to eliminate potential foes.....Such as the city of Tyre or some of the tribes in Iraq/Afghanistan who retreated to their impregnable rock fortresses.
Green also draws attention to Alexanders PR department who were busy putting "spin" on all the tales about Alexander and his achievements. In addition he was accompanies by a team of scholars who measured distances recorded the plants and animals, translated books, acquired astronomical knowledge and provided an intelligence service that briefed Alexander in person.
At one point in the narrative, it becomes clear that there is a clear divide between what the troops thought they had signed on for: ....a punitive expedition into Asia ...a bit of killing, plunder, and rape.....then back home to retire and enjoy the spoils of war.......And what Alexander had in mind. His idea was that this peripatetic war would be carried on as a permanent condition and the soldiers families would accompany the troops wherever they went. Just before his death he was planning on invading Arabia and then moving west to North Africa and Spain. Obviously a significant element in his success was momentum. He just kept rolling forward before opposition had the chance to get organised and oppose him in any serious way. He laid out the elements of subjugation and control bu allocating Satrapies as he went ...backed up by Macedonian garrisons...and established cities but apparently most of this fell into a heap as soon as Alexander's juggernaught had departed. Though I must admit that the Indian campaign details seemed a bit truncated and I would have liked a bit more detail on what happened after Alexander's death. (But I guess one has to draw the line somewhere and this could be the basis of another book....hmm just checked and, sure enough, Peter Green has already written one about what happened after Alexander's death).
Alexander certainly created legends about himself. (Of course he had his own propaganda machine to help this along in the form of Callisthenes, Aristotle's nephew). Somewhere I have a whole book about "Legends of Alexander"...which is full of stories of all sorts of miraculous happenings attributed to him.
Just found that Peter Green's "day job" is something like a head hunter and he's written lots of manuals for military purposes etc.....somehow I assumed he was an academic. He has certainly written a lot of books. And this is one I would be happy to recommend. Five stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | May 30, 2020 |
Beautifully written biography on Alexander the Great. Includes quite a bit on his father, Phillip. Enough detail so you know what it going on but not letters and letters of irrelevant stuff. This book read more like a novel than a dry history text. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Peter Green's treatment of Alexander is the first book I bought when, in 1990, I started graduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I wasn't a history major, but I always was and remain a history reader. I knew little about Alexander at that time. What I did know is some of the things that happened to Alexander's empire after he died. L. Sprague de Camp, Mary Renault, and a few others told me about that stuff before I ever picked up a history of Alexander himself. So when I saw Peter Green on the shelf and had a bit of change in my pocket, I pounced on his biography of Alexander.

As a read on Alexander, I found Dr. Green pretty much of a so-so. The history parts were swell, but in his narration Peter Green came off as a Pecksniff. Alexander's achievements were discounted because they were accomplished by Alexander. Peter Green doesn't like Alexander because he (Green) evidently despises drunkards, homosexuals, muggers, killers, soldiers and some other types whose disparagement he either forgot or chose to neglect in his Alexander project. In his tale of Alexander, however, Green takes every opportunity to fault the General for all of those sins and for some I've probably forgot to mention. After all, it's been almost 30 years since I read Dr. Green.

Green seemed both self-righteous and ignorant of the fact that of all those things he and some other modern prudes rush to despise in the ancients -- things such as thuggery, rape, murder, drunkenness, drug use, torture, genocide, starvation, spouse abuse, et other passtimes -- were in Alexander's day called "fun".

Most all of the crimes committed by Alexander's troops in their conquests were all in a day's work for armies of that age and -- when I recall Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other such tiffs -- I don't think the pleasures of Alexander's army were as awfully outre or out of kilter as most of the stuff that goes on in our "civilized,' Christian, Western Hemisphere these days.

Peter Green was born in 1924 and today must be awfully old. Still I think it might improve his historical perspective if he'd buy a few big jugs of single-malt and tag along with the Fifth United States Marines when next they leave home to aid and abet Washington's next armed robbery -- OOOOPS! I mean "regime change" -- OOOOPS! I mean "humanitarian relief operation."

Wherever such an experience might lead Dr. Green and whatever happens to him during the operation, I'm sure it would prepare him to write better books in the future.

Solomon Sed. ( )
  NathanielPoe | Feb 20, 2019 |
Peter Green's thesis I'm p. sure: Alexander was a warmongering genius with a embarrassing god-complex, but in a super hot interesting way. ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
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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 united world. His dream was at times characterized as a benevolent interest in the brotherhood of man, sometimes as a brute interest in the exercise of power. Green, a Cambridge-trained classicist who is also a novelist, portrays Alexander as both a complex personality and a single-minded general, a man capable of such diverse expediencies as patricide or the massacre of civilians. Green describes his Alexander as "not only the most brilliant (and ambitious) field commander in history, but also supremely indifferent to all those administrative excellences and idealistic yearnings foisted upon him by later generations, especially those who found the conqueror, tout court, a little hard upon their liberal sensibilities." This biography begins not with one of the universally known incidents of Alexander's life, but with an account of his father, Philip of Macedonia, whose many-territoried empire was the first on the continent of Europe to have an effectively centralized government and military. What Philip and Macedonia had to offer, Alexander made his own, but Philip and Macedonia also made Alexander form an important context for understanding Alexander himself. Yet his origins and training do not fully explain the man. After he was named hegemon of the Hellenic League, many philosophers came to congratulate Alexander, but one was conspicuous by his absence: Diogenes the Cynic, an ascetic who lived in a clay tub. Piqued and curious, Alexander himself visited the philosopher, who, when asked if there was anything Alexander could do for him, made the famous reply, "Don't stand between me and the sun." Alexander's courtiers jeered, but Alexander silenced them: "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." This remark was as unexpected in Alexander as it would be in a modern leader. For the general reader, the book, redolent with gritty details and fully aware of Alexander's darker side, offers a gripping tale of Alexander's career. Full backnotes, fourteen maps, and chronological and genealogical tables serve readers with more specialized interests.

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