Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A review of Alexander the Great: Son of the Gods (2001) by Alan Fildes and Joann Fletcher

(Rating 5 of 5)

Alan Fildes and Joann Fletcher wrote this book, Alexander the Great: Son of the Gods, to tell the tale of the world's greatest conqueror. Their book is unique by the amount of space the dedicate to Alexander's time in Egypt, which they consider to be very important to his development and to his ideas on his own divinity. This book's structure and format have a very strong textbook feel to it. The chapters are subdivided into little sections and there are feature boxes that are within but excluded from the main text. The book contains a lot of incredible visuals, such as maps, images of ancient statues, medieval works of art, and present day photos of places where Alexander had been.

This work starts out as a traditional tale of Alexander, discussing the conditions of Macedonia, Greece as a whole, and the Persian Empire that long threatened Greece long before Alexander's arrival. The authors tell the story of how Alexander's dynasty got started and how his parents King Phillip and Queen Olympias came to be married. Alexander grows up between two parents who despise one another while being tutored by one of the greatest minds ever, Aristotle's.

(Alexander's parents)

Alexander becomes the King of Macedon when his father is assassinated. As King, goes to war against the Persian Empire. After defeating Darius III in battle at the battle of Issus and achieving victory at Tyre he heads south. The two authors focus a great deal on what happened to him when he was in the land of the Nile.

(The Alexander Mosaic)

“With the whole of Asia Minor now his, Alexander was free to pursue the Persians east into their own heartlands. However, knowing that would take Darius at least a year to muster a new army after his defeat at Issus, Alexander chose instead to go south to Egypt. Although often regarded by later historians as little more than an eccentric diversion, Alexander's six-month Egyptian sojourn was essential to his future plans—he required a strong coastal base for both strategic and commercial purposes. However, the founding of the city of Alexandria was not the only legacy of the young king's time in Egypt. His stay there was marked a major psychological turning point in his life, for it was in Egypt that he became convinced of his own invincibility and divinity.”(p.52)

Leaving Egypt the Pharaoh, he goes on to challenge King Darius for the rest of his empire. Defeating the King of Persia at the Battle of Gaugamela , Alexander spends the rest of his life mopping up the pieces of his newly won kingdom, stretching his empire all the way to India.

(The battle of Gaugamela)

After his death the authors give the best detailed account of break up his empire amongst his generals that I had ever read. The book also tells the tale of Alexander's tomb that for centuries was located in Alexandria. Now no one knows where it is! If it is ever found that discovery would make the discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb pale by comparison. According to the authors it was how Alexander conquered and ruled that was his greatest legacy for he single handily ushered in the Hellenistic Age.

(Alexander's Macedonian Empire)

I recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about Alexander the Great the unstoppable conqueror who saw himself as a god.

{Video is from the History Channel's Battles BC series.}

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