Alexander the Great, arguably the most exciting figure from antiquity, waged war as a Homeric hero and lived as one, conquering native peoples and territories on a superhuman scale. From the time he invaded Asia in 334 to his death in 323, he expanded the Macedonian empire from Greece in the west to Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, Central Asia and "India" (Pakistan and Kashmir) in the east. Although many other kings and generals forged empires, Alexander produced one that was without parallel, even if it was short-lived. And yet, Alexander could not have achieved what he did without the accomplishments of his father, Philip II (r. 359-336). It was Philip who truly changed the course of Macedonian history, transforming a weak, disunited, and economically backward kingdom into a military powerhouse. A warrior king par excellence, Philip left Alexander with the greatest army in the Greek world, a centralized monarchy, economic prosperity, and a plan to invade Asia. For the first time, By the Spear offers an exhilarating military narrative of the reigns of these two larger-than-life figures in one volume. Ian Worthington gives full breadth to the careers of father and son, showing how Philip was the architect of the Macedonian empire, which reached its zenith under Alexander, only to disintegrate upon his death. By the Spear also explores the impact of Greek culture in the East, as Macedonian armies became avatars of social and cultural change in lands far removed from the traditional sphere of Greek influence. In addition, the book discusses the problems Alexander faced in dealing with a diverse subject population and the strategies he took to what might be called nation building, all of which shed light on contemporary events in culturally dissimilar regions of the world. The result is a gripping and unparalleled account of the role these kings played in creating a vast empire and the enduring legacy they left behind.
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"Pitting one against the other?"
While I love much of the information here, I don't like how it keeps being presented--and I'm not even finished.
One, trying to compare Philip and Alexander, even if the author leaves it up to the reader (or listener) is just silly. Would there be the latter without the former? Uhh...Some of the assertions about the two had me saying "duh!!", though maybe this is meant for someone who hasn't read all the source material available on Alexander.
I bought this primarily for information on Philip, and wasn't disappointed in the least. The military aspect of it was great, but when comparing him and his son, things get a little rocky. Why do it? They were clearly both great men in their own rights, and everyone (despite what the author thinks, apparently) knows it. It's unnecessary, because the other information presented in this book, and all together, is awesome! Philip and Alexander carved Macedon into history together, not one or the other more.
Two, the narration is positively. mind. numbing. Eleven hours of Arrian wasn't this bland. The only thing keeping me engaged was the fact that I wanted to know this stuff. Otherwise? My god. If you need to put your kid to sleep or something, this is the book for you.
"Bueller..... Bueller...... Bueller...... Monotone"
speaker varying tone
No tone change, or fluxuation
Please provide input for the narrator while reading
"Very good book....but the reading could be better"
I particularly appreciated the well-balanced analysis of the reign of philip and alexander; it's neither a criticism nor a eulogy of the reign of both monarchs but a successful attempt at giving each one his due. Prof. Worthington's book deserved a better performance...but i wouldn't be as harsh as others on phil holland's reading...it wasn't so bad after all !!
"Good story. Obnoxious narration."
This was an interesting book, With fair assessment of material. The narrator was pretty bad tho.
"Good detail, poor narration"
I liked the story because of the detail. The narrator's nearly monotone, sing-song style was annoying
"Narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Greek words"
No. It's pop history and the narration seriously detracts.
Doesn't know how to pronounce Greek terms.
Yes: uninstall it.
This book has some of the worst qualities of pop history: a dubious premise, writing badly in need of a competent editor, and overall very boring.
"A good listen."
Very good addition to my studies in Greek history. Easy to follow and listen to on the drive. I'm an amateur in historical studies but I thought the entertaining manner in which the material was presented improved my knowledge of Big Phil and Big Al.
"Good Book; Terrible Narration"
I think some more detail of specific battles would have made for a more engaging book. It feels a bit short (actually it feels long, but I believe that is because of a lack of detail). The book means to focus more on the personalities of Philip and Alexander than the battles. I picked this up because I could never keep my world history straight in high school and recently discovered my interest in military history. This book covers more than just the military aspect of the Macedonians, but I believe it might be at the cost of any really rich gritty detail.
The narration is absolutely terrible. The narrator never changes tempo or inflection. The text was clearly written with the intent to instill feeling in the reader, but Mr. Holland successfully glosses over every paragraph with an unwavering drab tone. It almost sounds as if he is bored of reading the book from the beginning, and he consistently misses language cues from the author. If you've had this experience; is not dissimilar to using an old 90's version of Microsoft Word or Microsoft Works to read your text back to you after you've typed it in. There is no feeling emoted in a sentence, it's almost as if he is just focusing on pronouncing each word and pausing at periods and commas.
This type of recitation may be appropriate for many historical texts in which the author is trying to avoid showing bias or opinion, but in this book Worthington clearly intends to create some suspense or drama at times. I'm no historian so perhaps there are pressures in the field that demand this sort of reading; but it seems to me that the audio does not match how the author intended the book to be read.
I am no historian, so if you are thinking of listening to this as a person who studies world history as a profession, you may find my opinion exactly the opposite of yours.
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