by N.G.L. Hammond
London: Duckworth Bristol Classical Press / Dulles, Va.: International Publishers Marketing, 200. Pp. viii, 344.
Maps, diagr., appends, chron., notes, biblio., index. $34.95 paper. ISBN: 185399068X
A severely scholarly look at the life and deeds of Alexander the Great.
Originally published in 1980 and revised several times before this first paperback edition, Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman is not a popular history of Alexander. Rather, Prof. Hammond (emeritus, Bristol) gives us a scholarly look at the man’s history, providing a careful analysis of the conflicting evidence about him, such as pointing out how ancient fabrications have often colored modern accounts; for example, some ancient accounts provide details about private arguments between particular persons when no third party was present. He opens with several chapters that review the earlier history of “Macedonia,” covering its formation as what was effectively a nation-state, the nature of its kingship, and the creation of its unique military institutions. Then, after giving us a look at Alexander’s early life, Hammond plunges into his campaigns. He devotes several chapters to operations in the Balkans and Greece, followed by those in Asia Minor, in Cilicia and eastern Anatolia, in Syria, Phoenicia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Hammond then deals with the long march to what is now Afghanistan, the campaigns in Bactria and India, and the arduous return to Mesopotamia. A final chapter covers the king’s last year of life and reviews his achievements. There follow three appendices discussing Alexander’s probable headquarters journal, his drinking, and his purported plans for the future.
Although, in a fault often shared by writers on the subject, Hammons is perhaps somewhat over fond of Alexander, this is an excellent book for anyone seriously interested in the king, in the Macedonian military system, or in the origins of the Hellenistic Age.