Cover Image: Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Who was Alexander the Great? Go beyond the myth, the legends, and the folklore to gain an insight into the man himself, and the life that he lived.

This book was amazingly written! It was very detailed, going through his entire life, and wrapping up with his death. While we may never know what killed Alexander the Great for sure, the author makes an educated guess, with the information that was/is available. 

If you love history, add this to your list now!
Was this review helpful?
4.5 "immersive, substantial, exciting" stars !!

Many of you won't know this. I have been campaigning with Alexander the Great since August 2019.

Mr. Everitt, an academic historian, author and professor has written an intelligent, thoughtful and balanced ancient historiobiography on this most powerful, complex and volatile kings. Firstly, Mr. Everitt sets the scene into the sociocultural environment of Alexander's time. He then, with gusto, takes us through his life and at many junctures explains his conjecture and hypotheses without taking us away from this most exciting and fascinating period. Whilst reading this, I felt like I was one of his honored companions walking alongside him and finding out more and more about him, his psychology, his intelligence, his kindness alongside his megalomania and cruelty.

As interesting as the battles were from Greece, to Egypt, to Asia Minor, to Persia and India and back to Babylon again ; what I was most intrigued was by his political and philosophical views, his spirituality and all of the intrigues. I was most fascinated by his mother Olympias and his training with Ancient Greek philosophers. I was fascinated by his pansexuality and his love for women, men and eunuchs. I was confused by his rages and volatility. I was amazed at his courage and his erudition. I am certain that if I was among his entourage I would be one of his biggest fanboys !

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Random House for an advanced ecopy in exchange for a review. This book was released to the general public in August 2019.
Was this review helpful?
The book itself is filled with a lot of great history -- in the chapters preceding Alexander, perhaps a little too much irrelevant history -- but the biggest problem I had with the book is the absolutely terrible copy editing.  The sentence structures at times ran away with any possible narrative meaning and the use of commas left some sentences unintelligible.  I have been reading proofs for 30 years and this one really got to me.  I had to go back and read some sentences several times just to try to figure out what were some important points to the story.  I would love to re-read this once the text is repaired but as-is I cannot recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
I’m afraid that this book was not for me. It was well written but I’m just not interested in military history.  The planning and execution of military campaigns bore me.  Unfortunately, that is what most of the book is about. The author also has an excessive interest in Alexander’s sex life (or lack thereof). I read until about the 40% point and then started to skim until the last 2 chapters that covered Alexander’s death and its aftermath. If you are really interested in the subject of this book I suggest that you skip the audiobook because the audiobook does not include the glossary, timeline, sources and endnotes which comprise 25% of the book. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
Anthony Everitt's new biography of Alexander the Great is excellent, though I think it is probably less revisionist or groundbreaking than the description would indicate. Though the title makes much of Everitt's examination and theories about Alexander's death, this book is really more of a traditional biography than an in-depth forensic study of the circumstances of Alexander's passing. That's fine, because it is an interesting, well-researched, and well-written study of one of the most fascinating figures in human history.

Everitt does a good job of setting the stage for Alexander's life by thoroughly introducing Macedonia and Philip. Alexander is a complex figure, but Everitt has some insightful thoughts about his motivations, personality, strengths and weaknesses. Everitt discusses Alexander's sexual proclivities at length without being overly lurid or sensational. Everitt includes in his book many of the myths that have grown up around Alexander's career, while offering insight as to which aspects of these stories may be truthful and which are less likely. The ending of this book particularly shines; the author considers the many plans that Alexander had in place when he died (conquering Arabia, fighting Carthage, controlling the Mediterranean, circumnavigating Africa), and speculates about how history could have changed if Alexander had lived to old age.

If you are interested in history or biography, this book is worth your time. I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.
Was this review helpful?
I asked to review this book as I was also listening to The Great Courses on Alexander The Great. I found this book to supplement the material I was listening to. The language is concise and the details are meticulous enough to get a thorough understanding of Alexander and his regime. If you are into military history or just who enjoys a good biography of one of the best military general, I would highly recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
While this is intended as a general reading book about Alexander the Great, it's a little dry. But overall, it's still a fascinating read. I definitely enjoyed it, and I think that anyone with an interest in Alexander the Great would enjoy it as well
Was this review helpful?
Discussed on this podcast:
Was this review helpful?
There have been movies and books about the exploits of Alexander the Great, and that is still not enough for me. Being a lover of history, I came in reading the book with an understanding of who Alexander the Great was and why he is so important to both oral and written history. What I was surprised to find was by reading this book I was supplied with so much information that I never knew about him. Reading this book made him human by highlighting his successes and blunders. 

I would recommend this book for all the history lovers, especially relating to ancient Greece and Rome.
Was this review helpful?
Nothing dry in THIS history book! I love the way Everitt tackles his subject matter: First off, he starts with the unusual death of Alexander, so odd and peculiar on so many fronts that he sent me on an Internet chase of similar occurrences. Second, the author often imagines what it must have been like to have been an Athenian, and there again he pulls the reader in, for the competitiveness between Greece and all those who fought it or lived under it was palpable. "Anyone who was not Greek was a barbarian" made me chuckle. The question of whether Macedonians were Greek or barbarian is relevant to current arguments of social acceptance. It is interesting to realize that young Alexander himself was discriminated against for his Macedonian blood.. The author offers as example the time when Alexander, then a youth, had trouble qualifying for the footrace in the Olympics Games because "only Hellenes were allowed to compete." Discrimination is something most readers can understand and relate to. I like this author very much for his talent in explaining the basic gift of each individual he mentions who is of secondary or tertiary tier to the main character of interest (Alexander). For example, when he first mentions Euripides, it is in the context of his presence at the court of Archelaus, "an effeminate homosexual who ran a relaxed and open court," which description helps the reader understand the context of Plato's Symposium, which Everitt also explains. The upshot that people in royal circles of ancient Greece were as finicky and likely to be offended if one moved out of what was politically correct as people are today. The sign of a good book is that I end up wanting it in paperback or hardback even while I am reading the digital version. That is how I feel about this one! Thank you, #NetGalley and #RandomHouse
Was this review helpful?
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit:

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death by Anthony Everitt is a biography of the famous conqueror. Mr. Everitt is an English writer, professor, and former Secretary-General of the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Alexander the Great is one of those enigmatic figures which have captured the public’s imagination for centuries.  In his book, Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death author Anthony Everitt paints of picture of his subject with all his strengths and weaknesses, showing a flawed human and not a godlike figure – as Alexander himself would have liked us to see. The book shows the several personas of Alexander, his flaws and capabilities committing both acts of enormous kindness and generosity, as well as incredible cruelty.

This book is well researched and gives out relevant background for the reader to understand the times and the man. There is a lot of cultural information on the time which Alexander grew up in, the Greeks, Babylonians and, of course, the Macedonians.

I learned a lot from the book, it was interesting, surprising and brought up several points which I found fascinating. The author provided details about Alexander’s personal life, and tries to figure out how he died. Mr. Everitt offered some opinions, but mostly stayed with the facts and offered supporting evidence.

At times, however, the book felt bogged down, almost as if the author abandoned the readability of the book in favor of that of an academic article. I didn’t mind finding out what type of soldiers were on the battle field, who the commanders were and their relationship to Alexander (mostly close childhood friends or accomplished leaders), but some of it felt out of place, almost as if the author wanted to include this information but couldn’t quite figure out how.

This book is a raw portrait of this legendary king. While certainly not a definitive biography, it doe keep the reader engaged throughout.
Was this review helpful?
Anthony Everitt’s biographical tour of prominent figures from the ancient world continues, this time departing the Roman Empire to delve into the fascinating conqueror Alexander the Great. 

I found Everitt’s previous books on Cicero, Augustus, and Hadrian to be exceptionally well researched but not particularly well written in terms of the way the information was presented. Though technically the writing wasn’t flawed, it was dry, dry, dry. And I say this as someone who is way more into dry nonfiction than your average person. 

That said, Alexander the Great was a pleasant surprise in that regard. Everitt’s research is as flawless and thorough as ever, but this book imparts a far more reader-friendly tone and pace. Perhaps this is because the information better lends itself to that sort of propulsive narrative than Everitt’s previous subjects, but I doubt it. Fascinating as Alexander is, so too are Hadrian, Augustus, Cicero, and the others. 

Thus it would seem that Everitt made a slight departure from his typical painfully neutral, just the facts, ma’am approach to delivery of information, and that is a good, good thing.
Was this review helpful?
This new book on Alexander the Great gives a decent overview of his life and military career for new reader, but isn't one I'd necessarily recommend for readers interested in more in-depth analysis. The writing is often choppy and repetitive. Everitt starts with Alexander's death and analyzing it before going back to start the real story, but then expects us to remember what he wrote 400 pages later and the end analysis of Alexander's death is the one place where a little repetition in the writing would have been helpful.  Everitt has an annoying habit of telling you something happens and then telling you it didn't actually happen as he does his analysis, which I found hard to keep up with. So much of the writing on Alexander's military exploits read like a Wikipedia recitation of how many of each type of soldiers there were at every battle, who was in charge, and what they were to do, that I found it more boring than battlefield strategies should be.

Overall on okay book for those being exposed to Alexander for the first time, but not designed to keep the reader or the historian's overall interest. Any book where I'm relieved that I've finally finished the book I kind of feel like I have to take at least one star out of the rating. I hope others like it better.
Was this review helpful?
Anthony Everitt's biography on Alexander is an extensive one, covering the lives of his parents and then culminating with his mysterious death and legacy. It is well researched and contains quite a lot of details, especially on giving the reader background information on the culture of the Macedonians, Babylonians, and other societies mentioned. Furthermore, Everitt paints a raw picture of Alexander, showcasing all of his strengths and flaws, given a very human portrayal of the legendary king.
What I struggled with while reading was Everitt's writing style. I found it choppy and disconnected at times. It didn't flow as much as I would've liked it to. One other thing that bugged me was how frequently he mentioned Homer and The Illiad (dozens of times). I get that Homer's stories (as well as Xenophon's The Anabis) were very inspirational to the ancient Greek's, but comparing everything Alexander did in combat to Achilles was a bit too much for me.

All in all, it is an excellent book for those wanting to learn more about Alexander the Great, but be aware that it's prose might bog down some readers.

Thank you to Anthony Everitt, Random House Publishing Group, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC to review.
Was this review helpful?
Alexander the Great is a well researched book and we'll written, This novel answered all of my questions plus providing surprising details about his personal life. The book starts out with his father and mother in historical context. The wars are covered in details with maps. I recommend for any history lover
Was this review helpful?
An exhaustive and exhausting biography of the Macedonian king. Alexander's life was short but Everitt's biography is ponderous and lengthy. He puts in every possible detail you can think of. I found myself wondering as I slugged through the book how he could possibly have found so many details, there just isn't THAT much left written and available from that period.

My advice, skip it.
Was this review helpful?
I learned a lot from reading this book because I really didn't know that much about Alexander the Great.  I believe the author spent a lot of time researching and trying to piece together the life of Alexander although much information is lost to time. The story was told in such a way that it didn't seem like I was just reading a history book. It was a fascinating read.  One aspect that stands out is how the author let the reader come to his or her own conclusions about some of the historical events. Another thing is how Alexander was barbaric in some cases and conciliatory in others. What an enigma. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in historical figures. Thank you #NetGalley for an ARC of #AlexandertheGreat.
Was this review helpful?
Having read other accounts of the life of Alexander the Great I expected to find nothing new.  However, this book by Anthony Everitt is excellent. I found it to well written and well researched. It covers the life and exploits of this famous soldier and explorer as well as the times in which he lived.  I highly recommend this book to all history lovers.  Thanks to Net Galley for allowing me to read it in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a novel that gave me so much knowledge about Alexander the Great, who it turns out, I knew nothing about. I enjoyed reading this book, and think you will too.
Was this review helpful?
Educational, extensively researched, interesting, surprising.

I'm a history buff and always found Alexander the Great fascinating. This well researched novel answered all of my questions plus providing surprising details about his personal life. The book starts out with his father and mother in historical context. The wars are covered in details with maps.

Very informative gem for anyone wanting to learn about Egypt, Cleopatra,  Alexander and the lengthy historical significance. The references, notes, and addendum by the author makes the book even more credible. I also want to say, the writing style was easy to read and follow. 

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an eread ARC of this fascinating historical novel.
Was this review helpful?