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Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness

Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness

Paperback

By (author) Guy MacLean Rogers

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  • Publisher: TIMES BOOKS
  • Format: Paperback | 420 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 201mm x 28mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 11 October 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Westminster
  • ISBN 10: 0812972716
  • ISBN 13: 9780812972719
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: PHOTOS THROUGHOUT; 12 MAPS
  • Sales rank: 595,583

Product description

For nearly two and a half millennia, Alexander the Great has loomed over history as a legend-and an enigma. Wounded repeatedly but always triumphant in battle, he conquered most of the known world, only to die mysteriously at the age of thirty-two. In his day he was revered as a god; in our day he has been reviled as a mass murderer, a tyrant as brutal as Stalin or Hitler. Who was the man behind the mask of power? Why did Alexander embark on an unprecedented program of global domination? What accounted for his astonishing success on the battlefield? In this luminous new biography, the esteemed classical scholar and historian Guy MacLean Rogers sifts through thousands of years of history and myth to uncover the truth about this complex, ambiguous genius. Ascending to the throne of Macedonia after the assassination of his father, King Philip II, Alexander discovered while barely out of his teens that he had an extraordinary talent and a boundless appetite for military conquest. A virtuoso of violence, he was gifted with an uncanny ability to visualize how a battle would unfold, coupled with devastating decisiveness in the field. Granicus, Issos, Gaugamela, Hydaspes-as the victories mounted, Alexander's passion for conquest expanded from cities to countries to continents. When Persia, the greatest empire of his day, fell before him, he marched at once on India, intending to add it to his holdings. As Rogers shows, Alexander's military prowess only heightened his exuberant sexuality. Though his taste for multiple partners, both male and female, was tolerated, Alexander's relatively enlightened treatment of women was nothing short of revolutionary. He outlawed rape, he placed intelligent women in positions of authority, and he chose his wives from among the peoples he conquered. Indeed, as Rogers argues, Alexander's fascination with Persian culture, customs, and sexual practices may have led to his downfall, perhaps even to his death. Alexander emerges as a charismatic and surprisingly modern figure-neither a messiah nor a genocidal butcher but one of the most imaginative and daring military tacticians of all time. Balanced and authoritative, this brilliant portrait brings Alexander to life as a man, without diminishing the power of the legend. "From the Hardcover edition."

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Author information

GUY MACLEAN ROGERS holds a Ph.D. in classics from Princeton University. He has received numerous grants and fellowships, including ones from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and All Souls College Oxford. His first book, "The Sacred Identity of Ephesos: Foundation Myths of a Roman City, " won the Routledge Ancient History Prize. Chairman of the Department of History of Wellesley College from 1997-2001, he grew up and still lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut. "From the Hardcover edition."

Review quote

Advance praise for "Alexander" " This thorough and deeply researched book is very welcome. Guy Rogers gives us, too, the astonishing and highly important relevance, to our whole history, including recent times, of this almost incredible career. Read it and think!" - ROBERT CONQUEST " Rogers' s "Alexander" is a learned and judicious essay about a man who became a myth in his lifetime and remains partly mythical today in spite of the best efforts of generations of scholars to interpret and reinterpret surviving ancient texts about him. Certainty on many points will never be possible; but reading what Rogers has to say about how Alexander changed the world around him and how his deeds still echo among us is a delightful exercise. Alexander modeled himself on Homer' s heroes and actually joined their company, as no one else ever managed to do." - WILLIAM H. MCNEILL, professor emeritus in history, University of Chicago, and author of "The Rise of the West " " Guy Rogers has written a lively account of the amazing career of Alexander the Great. He greatly admires the Macedonian conqueror and his achievements, but his judgments are more balanced and marked by common sense than many modern treatments." - DONALD KAGAN, Sterling Professor of History and Classics, Yale University, author of "The Peloponnesian War" and other books. "From the Hardcover edition."

Flap copy

For nearly two and a half millennia, Alexander the Great has loomed over history as a legend-and an enigma. Wounded repeatedly but always triumphant in battle, he conquered most of the known world, only to die mysteriously at the age of thirty-two. In his day he was revered as a god; in our day he has been reviled as a mass murderer, a tyrant as brutal as Stalin or Hitler. Who was the man behind the mask of power? Why did Alexander embark on an unprecedented program of global domination? What accounted for his astonishing success on the battlefield? In this luminous new biography, the esteemed classical scholar and historian Guy MacLean Rogers sifts through thousands of years of history and myth to uncover the truth about this complex, ambiguous genius. Ascending to the throne of Macedonia after the assassination of his father, King Philip II, Alexander discovered while barely out of his teens that he had an extraordinary talent and a boundless appetite for military conquest. A virtuoso of violence, he was gifted with an uncanny ability to visualize how a battle would unfold, coupled with devastating decisiveness in the field. Granicus, Issos, Gaugamela, Hydaspes-as the victories mounted, Alexander's passion for conquest expanded from cities to countries to continents. When Persia, the greatest empire of his day, fell before him, he marched at once on India, intending to add it to his holdings. As Rogers shows, Alexander's military prowess only heightened his exuberant sexuality. Though his taste for multiple partners, both male and female, was tolerated, Alexander's relatively enlightened treatment of women was nothing short of revolutionary. He outlawed rape, he placedintelligent women in positions of authority, and he chose his wives from among the peoples he conquered. Indeed, as Rogers argues, Alexander's fascination with Persian culture, customs, and sexual practices may have led to his downfall, perhaps even to his death. Alexander emerges as a charismatic and surprisingly modern figure-neither a messiah nor a genocidal butcher but one of the most imaginative and daring military tacticians of all time. Balanced and authoritative, this brilliant portrait brings Alexander to life as a man, without diminishing the power of the legend. "From the Hardcover edition.