What can we learn from the stunning rise and mysterious death of the ancient world’s greatest conqueror? An acclaimed biographer reconstructs the life of Alexander the Great in this magisterial revisionist portrait.
“[An] infectious sense of narrative momentum . . . Its energy is unflagging, including the verve with which it tackles that teased final mystery about the specific cause of Alexander’s death.”—The Christian Science Monitor
More than two millennia have passed since Alexander the Great built an empire that stretched to every corner of the ancient world, from the backwater kingdom of Macedonia to the Hellenic world, Persia, and ultimately to India—all before his untimely death at age thirty-three. Alexander believed that his empire would stop only when he reached the Pacific Ocean. But stories of both real and legendary events from his life have kept him evergreen in our imaginations with a legacy that has meant something different to every era: in the Middle Ages he became an exemplar of knightly chivalry, he was a star of Renaissance paintings, and by the early twentieth century he’d even come to resemble an English gentleman. But who was he in his own time?
In Alexander the Great, Anthony Everitt judges Alexander’s life against the criteria of his own age and considers all his contradictions. We meet the Macedonian prince who was naturally inquisitive and fascinated by science and exploration, as well as the man who enjoyed the arts and used Homer’s great epic the Iliad as a bible. As his empire grew, Alexander exhibited respect for the traditions of his new subjects and careful judgment in administering rule over his vast territory. But his career also had a dark side. An inveterate conqueror who in his short life built the largest empire up to that point in history, Alexander glorified war and was known to commit acts of remarkable cruelty.
As debate continues about the meaning of his life, Alexander's death remains a mystery. Did he die of natural causes—felled by a fever—or did his marshals, angered by his tyrannical behavior, kill him? An explanation of his death can lie only in what we know of his life, and Everitt ventures to solve that puzzle, offering an ending to Alexander’s story that has eluded so many for so long.
About the Author
Anthony Everitt, a former visiting professor in the visual and performing arts at Nottingham Trent University, who has written extensively on European culture, is the author of Cicero, Augustus, Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome, The Rise of Rome, and The Rise of Athens. He has as well served as secretary general of the Arts Council of Great Britain. Everitt lives near Colchester, England’s first recorded town, founded by the Romans.
“Reads as easily as a novel . . . [Anthony] Everitt has a wealth of anecdotes and two millennia of histories to work with, and he delivers and interprets them flawlessly. Nearly unparalleled insight into the period and the man make this a story for everyone.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Everitt, an expert storyteller, has written a riveting narrative that restores Alexander to his own context—and takes a whack at solving the remaining mysteries. . . . Along the way, he takes us on a spirited passage through the ancient world, from the Balkans to South Asia.”—BookPage
“Ancient history expert Everitt attacks the young Macedonian king’s astonishing conquests on three continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—with relish. . . . This detailed account of the intriguing ancient military genius will fascinate military history readers eager to learn more about Alexander’s motivation and the lifelong fearlessness that propelled him to near-mythic status.”—Publishers Weekly
Praise for Anthony Everitt
The Rise of Rome
“Fascinating history and a great read.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Everitt writes for the informed and the uninformed general reader alike, in a brisk, conversational style, with a modern attitude of skepticism and realism.”—The Dallas Morning News
“An excellent introduction to a critical period in the history of Rome . . . Cicero comes across much as he must have lived.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Riveting . . . a clear-eyed biography [offering] vivid lessons about the viciousness that can pervade elected government.”—Chicago Tribune
“Fascinating and brisk to read . . . All the stuff of adventure is here, from court intrigue to roving armies to shipwreck.”—The Washington Post Book World
“A narrative of sustained drama and skillful analysis . . . an accomplished biography.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer