cover image Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

Anthony Everitt. Random House, $30 (512p) ISBN 978-0-425-28652-4

Ancient history expert Everitt (Cicero) attacks the young Macedonian king’s astonishing conquests on three continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—with relish. He starts off slow, with lots of background on family and context, but kicks things into gear when Alexander starts marching. Quick-thinking and able to learn from his mistakes, Everitt’s Alexander displays a facility with tactics and strategy on a diverse array of battlefields as well as cleverly meshing Macedonian and local cultures to help him more nimbly govern his extensive empire. Everitt evenhandedly reminds readers of Alexander’s failings, too, such as incredibly dysfunctional family dynamics and a penchant for self-aggrandizing claims (including being the offspring of a deity). Despite increasing paranoia and heavy drinking toward the end of his short life, the battle-scarred leader still commanded incredible loyalty from his army while understanding the boundaries of that loyalty. Everitt carefully discusses the controversy surrounding Alexander’s premature death at age 32, including a convincing probable cause. 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. (Aug.)