Paul Cartledge, Author . Overlook $28.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-58567-565-4

Alexander the Great's brilliant military campaigns in the fourth century B.C. spread not only his reputation as a heroic and ingenious leader but also the culture of ancient Greece throughout the known world. With his usual riveting storytelling, Cartledge (The Spartans ), chair of Cambridge University's classics faculty, narrates Alexander's life and rise to power. Cartledge takes issue with those who contend that Alexander's greatest contribution was to spread Hellenism. He argues instead that Alexander, while sincerely attached to Hellenism, was more concerned with the glory his conquests brought him. Cartledge provides detailed chronicles of Alexander's battles with the Persians, the Tyrians and the Babylonians as he demonstrates the young king's military genius and hunger for success in war. According to Cartledge, Alexander's love of hunting game offers the key to his life and reign. It led him, for example, to successfully adapt for military battles many hunting strategies, such as the surprise attack, a uniquely Alexandrine contribution. A number of appendixes, including a glossary and an extensive bibliography, enhance the book. Cartledge's knack for bringing history to life makes for an absorbing new biography of the legendary Greek leader. 37 b&w illus., 4 maps, 6 battle plans. Agent, Julian Alexander. (Oct. 5)

Forecast: Warner Brothers' November 5 release of Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, could give this a sales boost.

Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
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