IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT by Michael Wood

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT

A Journey from Greece to Asia
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 British historian Wood (The Magician's Doubts, 1995, etc.) absorbingly recreates Alexander the Great's epic conquests, in a tie-in to a series to air on PBS in early 1998. Alexander ascended the Macedonian throne at the age of 20, conquered much of the world known to the ancients by 30, and died aged 32. Born in 356 b.c., Alexander was shaped by barbarian and classical forces: His mother, Olympias, was intensely devoted to strange religious cults, but Alexander was tutored by one of the great philosophers of all time, Aristotle. When Alexander succeeded to the throne in 336 b.c. after his father's assassination, he became the master of a kingdom that already dominated a Greece exhausted by the war between Athens and Sparta. Shortly after becoming king, he ruthlessly suppressed an uprising by the city of Thebes, then invaded Persia, Greece's ancient enemy. Wood retraces Alexander's astounding victories over Darius at Granicus and Issus; his easy victories over Phoenicia and Egypt, where the oracle of Zeus declared him ``son of God'' and where he founded Alexandria, destined to become one of the great cities of the ancient world; his invasion of Babylonia and his completion of the destruction of Darius' army at Arbela and Persepolis; and subsequent conquests of central Asia and India. Wood meditates on the transformed landscape of Alexander's world, his frequent atrocities (like the sacking of Persepolis and the massacre of the Branchidae), and his lasting legacy of destruction. To this day, in many countries Alexander touched, the name Iskander is a byword for destruction, ambition, and greed. Nonetheless, Wood points out, although Alexander's conquests were transient and his empire short-lived, his rule was a critical turning point for the ancient world, generating creative energies and contacts between East and West that would never have occurred otherwise. Wood has thoughtfully recreated one of ancient history's most fascinating periods. (56 color, 56 b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-520-21307-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997




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