Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review (#10 of 2013) Alexander the Great and His Time by Agnes Savill

I picked this one up because I wanted tolearn more about the Central Asian regions Alexander conquered and his perceived lasting impacts. Having recently visited a one-prominent city conquered by Alexander, he was on my mind.

This book is one of those where you reach a conclusion, then read the comments about the book on Amazon (none of which are 5-star) and reach a different conclusion. Savill's book has not been well-received.

What I got from Savill's telling is that Alexander was unique in that he desired to create a "Brotherhood of Man," with intermixed races and cultures under a Greek/Macedonian umbrella. He respected women and the cultures he conquered, integrating locals into his army and keeping locals in positions of authority.

The primary example of Alexander's respect for women is given by his treatment of the Persian King Darius' family and mother upon their capture. Darius' mother is reputed to have adopted Alexander as her own son, and Alexander had many episodes of treating captured women well (although how well is disputed, see the commenters). Savill hardly mentions Alexander's harem, making it sound like he fell in love with Roxana the Bactrian, whom he married.

Alexander dies halfway through the Savill text, and the rest is spent to explaining his impact and the battle for succession which came afterward. Is is rival claims to the throne which Savill claims led to certain leaders publishing false accounts of Alexander-- portraying him as a drunken tyrant. Savill is eager to counter those claims (which critics knock her for).

I listened to this book so it was hard to follow the battle strategies and geography without the aid of maps.

Knowing what I now know about information Savill apparently omitted, I'll give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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