Book Review: Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues


by Edward M. Anson

London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. 240. Pp. xiv, 226. $34.95. ISBN: 1441193790

The Continuing Search for Alexander

In his Preface, Prof. Anson (Arkansas) asks “Why another book on Alexander the Great?” and then reminds us that there is still quite a lot of unexplored territory or questions needing a revisit, thus “Themes and Issues.” 

Anson addresses some of these in six chapters. These cover the early history of Macedon, the reign of his father Philip II and “the rise of a Macedonian nation,” Alexander’s quest for deification, the administration of the empire, the concept of an Alexandrian “kingdom of Asia,” and ending inevitably with a review of Alexander’s legacy.  Anson often analyses conflicting ancient sources, trying to pick out the most likely version of events, which is at times not possible, but on the whole he does an excellent job, providing new insights into often murky events. 

This is a serious scholarly work, extensively researched and well written. Anson’s meticulous attention to sources makes it rather difficult to read, however, as the narrative is constantly interrupted by in-line references, which breaks up one’s stream of thought. The book also has copious end notes; combining both into proper footnotes would have made if much more readable. It is also by no means that last word on the subject of Alexander, a continuously fascinating character.

Nevertheless, for the serious student of Alexander and his times, this is an essential read.

Note: Alexander the Great is also available in hardback, $110.00, ISBN 978-1-4411-1390-0, as an eBook, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-4411-4363-1, and in pdf, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-8264-4521-6.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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