Reviewed by Joanne Lakomski

About 2300 years ago, a 20-year old man set off to rule the world.

While reading Philip Freeman’s Alexander the Great, I compared Freeman’s descriptions of Alexander’s life with the current events and cultural norms of my life at 20. If I had been planning to conquer large chunks of the world, technology would have sped my efforts along. Even with satellites and modern communications, with the ability to connect to my minions and to spy upon my foes, my undertaking to conquer the world would have been a massive one.

Instead, at the age of 20, I left college and was living in the mountains of Colorado playing softball for Mike’s Rocky Mountain Liquor. Hmmmm…

The scope of history that encompassed Alexander’s life is fascinating and Freeman provides a strong foundation for knowing the man. His childhood tutor was Aristotle. The great orator Demosthenes was his foil in Athens. Alexander visited Troy seeking the echoes of the Trojan War he had learned about by reading Homer.

The author’s portrayal of Alexander feels plausible to me. There was an intelligence and drive. There was the ability to motivate and lead. And, there was the colossal ego enabling the belief that one could dominate lands and riches and peoples thousands of slowly traveled miles away from home.

Freeman has chosen details that summarize Alexander’s actions while providing some context to contemporary events that influenced Alexander, and, of course, that Alexander influenced. He includes two maps demonstrating Alexander’s travels. They are maps of regions we see regularly on the evening news; the regions still continue to be attractive to conquerors.

Reading Alexander the Great was engaging and fast. The era is one in which I am interested. I am especially appreciative of the detail about Alexander’s father – Philip of Macedonia. There is much less reference material available about him than about his son.

And for me, there is a huge benefit in reading history. It helps me question who we are today compared to yesterday. To reflect upon power and leadership and followership. To wonder, as I did throughout this book, with all of our technology and speed and assumption of sophistication and superiority, could a 20-something today conquer much of the ‘civilized’ world?

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Joanne is an organization development and human resources professional with a business background living in Ohio. She has lived in Europe, Africa (including her Peace Corps service in South Africa), and arround the United States. She loves to plays volleyball, read, write, and has a cat named Ender.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.