• Alexander the Great

  • By: Arrian
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (405 ratings)
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Alexander the Great

By: Arrian
Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
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Publisher's summary

This is the incredible story of the world's greatest conqueror, a man who single handedly changed the course of history...and who was worshipped as a god. There have been many attempts in the 2,300 years since Alexander's death to tell the epic story of this enigmatic soldier. His deeds read like the stuff of legends. Of all the chroniclers of Alexander, and there have been many famous ones, including Plutarch and Ptolemy, none have given us a clearer and truer account than the one by Arrian.

Writing 450 years after Alexander's death, Arrian had the advantage of hindsight and the unique ability to sift through important historical material which is now lost. He was able to judge the motives of many of the detractors of Alexander and to set the record straight in many instances. Alexander's aims have always been a topic of intense debate and this history will tell you what this brilliant tactician was trying to accomplish and why. From his first encounter with the Persians at the Battle of the Granicus to his last battle on the banks of the Indus River, thrill to the extraordinary exploits of Alexander the Great as he turns the ancient world upside down. After his passing, nothing would ever again be the same....

Lucius Flavius Arrianus, or Arrian (circa A.D. 85 to 90 - circa 146) was born in Nicomedia, a Greek town which at the time was a part of the vast Roman Empire. It is fairly certain that Arrian's ancestors had been citizens for some time because his family was prominent, and he himself seems to have held an important priesthood as a young man. Arrian studied Stoic philosophy with the famous Epictetus and has left us an excellent book on the subject based on his notes. One of his fellow students was the future emperor, Hadrian, whose close friend he remained in later life. Arrian was a wealthy man with a great sense of responsibility. He put his considerable abilities to work on behalf of society and served with distinction as a senator and as a military commander. In fact, he was the first Greek ever to command Roman legions. He later served as governor of Cappadocia. In his spare moments, Arrian wrote many important books, of which his Anabasis of Alexander is by far the most popular.
©2004 Audio Connoisseur (P)2004 Audio Connoisseur

What listeners say about Alexander the Great

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Superb Chronicle of Alexander

This was a very good overview of Alexander of Macedon and the material was very well organized and presented. It begins with a short biographical sketch that brings us up to date on Alexander's youth, as this is missing from the account by Arrian. Arrian's writing is quite easy to digest and I had no problems understanding the chronology of events and the sometimes complex battle tactics. All in all, except in a few places, the action moves ahead briskly. The end of this recording is quite nice, as we are treated to several essays which successfully summarize and give us a greater perspective of Alexander and his time. The piece by Mary Reynault is particularly poignant. I was impressed by the narration, and the production values are extremely good.

If you don't know a thing about ancient history, this is probably not a good choice for you. However, if you have prepared yourself by doing some other readings (listenings) on ancient Greek and Near Eastern history, you will find this recording to be of excellent value and quite entertaining.

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39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book, just stick with it.

It was so slow to develop that I stopped listening and went on to another audiobook after the first two CDs, but fortunately, I came back later to hear more. As it turns out, the first three Cds were slow, and at times even brutally boring, but the remainder of the book, starting roughly with Alexander's entry into Persia, was outstanding. If you like history, don't miss this book!

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23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

As near to a battle blow by blow as you can get

I was very interested in Alexander and chose this book. You have to take the good with the bad to absorb this book. To get to the really great strategy that Alexander used in battle you must listen to all the detail of how he managed each of his different regiments of troops. The good stuff lies between this information. The politician, the good and honorable man who let success take advantage of him, and the brillant tactician. If you are bored easily by repetitive details this one is not for you. It is arguably one of the most accurate versions of the life of Alexander. Keep in mind too that it is a very old text written when books portrayed history with little concern for entertainment value.

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18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This book is a time capsule, a peek into history

This audio book may not be for every one, but I thought it was fantastic. I liked the tone and speech of the narrator, the word usage of the translator and the style of the author. I listened to it several times and most likely will again. It is good history and a great story with very interesting accounts of incredible feats like capturing the Island City of Tyre, which had been unconquerable for centuries. I loved Alexander's response to the request of Darius (the king of Persia) to get his mother released, "If you want your mother, your wife and your children back, stand and fight for them and do not run away." As a leader of men, the only other person I would put in his league is George Washington.

What really stood out to me the most was the words and the way Arrian described Alexander's advance. Through out the book he emphasizes the speed with which Alexander moved from battle to battle. Sentences like "upon hearing this news Alexander was on the march again with greater rapidity than ever." Of the Persians you hear sentences like "when they saw that it was Alexander himself that was upon them, they incontinently fled." This exactly fits the "he goat which came from the west on the face of the whole earth and touched not the ground" of Daniel's vision. "There was no power in the ram (Persia) to stand before him. There was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very strong; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken." Alexander died within a year or two after conquering the world.

The writer of the appendix, much of which I did not agree with, was right in pointing out how Alexander's conquest, by giving the world a common language, prepared it for the introduction and spreading of the good news about God's salvation through Jesus Christ.

How could you not be amazed?

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Tedium Magnum

Though it compares favorably with the "begats" in the first chapter of Matthew in the Bible, the similarity in this tedious chronicle of battles, marches, slaughters and sacrifices compares to it in human interest and character development. Not saved by more than a hint of military tactics or geographical detail, this work is a soporific. I regret using a book credit for it. The publishers "blurb" promised more than was delivered.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Heroic Historic Narrative

"Of course, one must not examine ancient tales about the divine too minutely. For stories that strike a listener as incredible because they violate our sense of what is probable begin to seem credible when an element of the divine is added."
-- Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, Book Five

Arrian's 'Anabasis' also known as 'The Campaigns of Alexander' is an intellectual descendent of Herodotus, Xenophon and Thucydides. It is made up of seven books that detail Alexander's campaigns after he is made king (upon the death of his father Philip II of Macedon) to the time of his own death in Babylon. The structure and name of this book show Arrian's desire to emulate Xenophon's Anabasis 1-7 (which means "a journey up-country from the sea") in form, structure, and power.

This is also probably the point where I should explain how I read this book. A few years ago, I bought several of Robert Strassler's Landmark classics:
1. The Histories: The Landmark Herodotus
2. The Landmark Xenophon's Hellenika
3. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
4. The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander

For a non-Classics expert, these are fantastic introductions to some of the best classical works of history. The notes, layout, design, etc., makes the journeys of Alexander, etc., easy to trace and understand. I did, however, also listen to the Aubrey de Sélincourt translation while I followed along reading the Pamela Mensch translation of the Landmark edition. With translations, I've often found this useful. I can see how two different translators approach the same work. Sélincourt's translation is more casual, more reader friendly, but Mensch's translation give better detail. I think I prefer Sélincourt for the story and Mensch for accuracy, if that makes sense?

Anyway, the book is a classic for a reason. It is fascinating, and Alexander's life is a living example of the heroic narrative journey. Arrian, who was a retired Roman military commander and philosopher, provides rich insight into the strengths and obvious weakness of Alexander. His telling of the Battle of Guagamela is worth the entire price of admission. It really is hard to read about Alexander the Great and feel he might be too little praised. His campaign into India and back, with his focus on uniting the Persians and the Greeks under his rule, prepared the ancient rule for Greek thinking. Christianity, Islam, etc., might never have traveled as fast and as far without Alexander first planting the seeds of multiculturalism and conquest like he did. I remember once some magazine or another ranked the most influential people who changed the world. I think Alexander was on the list, but only in the top 20 or 30. I'm not sure that is correct. I think as far as influence, Alexander is definitely in the top 10, if not 5.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Spectacular

First of all the reader is magnificent, especially for reading history. He has the perfect intonation for every event and statement and is miraculous in his mood creation. Second, the story of Alexander is amazing not only for the history it recounts but for its revelation of the character of Alexander, the man. Someone who has no interest in military tactics or history may find it dry, but otherwise you will love it.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Please fix this audiobook and re-up. Thanks!

Charlton Griffin is spectacular as usual...I couldn't find any pronunciation that he botched and his musical cadences resonated long after he finished. Lucius Flavius Arrianus' probably the best existent text on Alexander's campaigns. There is Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus' short biography and Quintus Curtius Rufus' The History of Alexander but I thought Arrian was the best.

Anyway, I followed along with my Penguin edition and pages 162-3 are missing (about 26 minutes into Book 3. Please fix and re-upload. Thanks.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful !

I enjoy anything about Alexander, and especially excellent books. This one falls into that category. The narrator Charlton Griffin did and excellent job with the interpretation. I also suggest Alexander by Harold Lamb, it is also narrated by Charlton Griffin. If you are into historical fiction I would also recommend The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield, narrated by John Lee. I have all three in my library and have listened to them more than once. You will not be wasting your points on any of these books. However this one is a MUST.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Alexander the Great

Uninspiring chronology of the events of Alexander's life. Straight recounting of events without bringing people, culture, or politics to life.

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6 people found this helpful