Alexander of Macedon, A Historical Biography

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Green, P. (1991). Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: a historical biography. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Original work published 1974)
Peter Green’s, Alexander of Macedon, takes us on a journey to Ancient Macedonia, to the early beginnings of Alexander’s life right up to his controversial death. This material is a revision and expansion from Green’s book, “Alexander the Great” originally published in 1970. In this detailed narrative of Alexander the Great, Green helps the reader to better understand Alexander’s life and the world he grew up in. Green begins this historical biography with Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, and how he came into power.
Green, a classical scholar, unlike many of his fellow colleagues who portray Alexander as a romantic figure, in pursuit of a united world, portrays Alexander as an ambitious, power driven tyrant. In the very first chapter, Green states that Alexander was “a genius; the product of his environment. What Alexander was, Philip and Macedonia in great part made him...” This is what Green proposes in his historical biography.
The author’s thesis argues that Alexander became who he was based on the society he grew up in. Green describes Alexander’s surroundings as “loud, clamorous professional soldiers, who rode or drank or fought or fornicated” (pg. 40). These were the male examples that he had in his life and his father was no different. He was also surrounded by the planning and strategy of war, treachery and conspiracies. His mother Olympia’s which is so popularly known for poisoning young Alexander’s mind against Philip, the author believes is nothing more but a psychological myth. Alexander and Olympia’s did not turn against Philip till 338 BC, when Alexander...

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...ander over the years. Although, the book does offer notes and references, maps, and a key of abbreviations I believe this narrative is most appropriate for an academic audience or for readers with knowledge of the ancient world. As someone who is not fully informed on classical studies, I was able to easily comprehend the authors writing. It was difficult for me to find any errors in this book. Perhaps the only weakness the book has is the lack of better maps. Otherwise, Green does an exemplary job of explaining who people are, the dates of when things occurred and how he believes things happened as well as the opinions other historians. Ultimately, Peter Green’s, Alexander of Macedon portrays Alexander as I always imagined him to be “a true genius as a field commander: perhaps, taken all in all, the most incomparable general the world has ever seen” (pg. 487).

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