Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan

Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan

Paperback Hellenistic Culture and Society

By (author) Frank L. Holt

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 260 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 210mm x 19mm | 342g
  • Publication date: 15 September 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520249933
  • ISBN 13: 9780520249936
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 4 maps
  • Sales rank: 495,338

Product description

What George W. Bush called the 'first war of the twenty-first century' actually began more than 2,300 years ago when Alexander the Great led his army into what is now a sprawling ruin in northern Afghanistan. Accounts of Alexander's invasion of ancient Bactria read eerily like news from our own day. In this vivid, meticulously researched, and elegantly narrated book, Frank L. Holt follows Alexander's historical, archaeological, and numismatic legacy back and forth between ancient Bactria and modern Afghanistan. Recounting the plight of the most powerful leader of the time as he led the most sophisticated army of its day into the treacherous world of tribal warlords, Holt describes those grueling campaigns and the impact they had on Alexander, his generals, their troops, and the world. "Into the Land of Bones" also examines the conflict from the point of view of the local warlords who pushed the invading Greeks to the limits of their endurance - and sometimes beyond, into mania and mutiny. The lively narrative situates the current war in Afghanistan in a broader historical perspective. Holt explains how the three modern superpowers that have invaded Afghanistan - Britain in the nineteenth century, the Soviets in the twentieth, and the United States in the twenty-first - are continuing the struggle that Alexander began centuries ago. That this legacy continues to play itself out today is a testament to the timeliness of Holt's fascinating and original account.

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Author information

Frank L. Holt is Professor of History at the University of Houston. He is the author of Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions (California, 2003), Thundering Zeus: The Making of Hellenistic Bactria (California, 1999), and Alexander the Great and Bactria: The Formation of a Greek Frontier in Central Asia (1988) and editor of The Greeks in Bactria and India (1985).

Review quote

"A great book... It brings the results of scholarship to a larger public. The commanders of the Coalition forces in Afghanistan should be under orders to read it." - Jona Lendering, Bryn Mawr Classical Review "Holt's striking parallels between the warlords Alexander pursued and their modern Afghan avatars result in that rarity of history books: one immediately practical to current-day events. Surely, the journalists, humanitarian workers, and officials rotating into Afghanistan today would profit from Holt's insights." - Gilbert Taylor, Booklist "Into the Land of Bones is the fullest narrative of Alexander's campaigns in Afghanistan available in English. It is informed by a comprehensive knowledge of the ancient sources, geography, and archaeology of Afghanistan. The work uses the history of Alexander to raise provocative questions about current affairs. This is one of the most important works on Alexander to appear in the last ten years." - Stanley Burstein, author of Outpost of Hellenism: The Emergence of Heraclea on the Black Sea"

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Preface Chapter One. Introduction The Crosshairs of History A Deeper Perspective Chapter Two. Hunting The Enemy City of Bones Victories Chapter Three. A Desperate Struggle Explosion Shock Waves Chapter Four. The Hydra Heads Of Bactria A Prophecy A Death Chapter Five. Love And War Little Star of Hope More Opposition Chapter Six. Dark Shadows Chaos Catastrophe Chapter Seven. The Legacy Lost and Found And Sometimes Lost Again Chapter Eight. Conclusion Plato Who? Lady Moon Appendix. Ancient Sources Notes Bibliography Index