• Philip and Alexander

  • Kings and Conquerors
  • By: Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Narrated by: Neil Dickson
  • Length: 20 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (407 ratings)

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Philip and Alexander  By  cover art

Philip and Alexander

By: Adrian Goldsworthy
Narrated by: Neil Dickson
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Publisher's summary

This definitive biography of one of history's most influential father-son duos tells the story of two rulers who gripped the world - and their rise and fall from power.

Alexander the Great's conquests staggered the world. He led his army across thousands of miles, overthrowing the greatest empires of his time and building a new one in their place. He claimed to be the son of a god, but he was actually the son of Philip II of Macedon.

Philip inherited a minor kingdom that was on the verge of dismemberment, but despite his youth and inexperience, he made Macedonia dominant throughout Greece. It was Philip who created the armies that Alexander led into war against Persia. In Philip and Alexander, classical historian Adrian Goldsworthy shows that without the work and influence of his father, Alexander could not have achieved so much. This is the groundbreaking biography of two men who together conquered the world.

©2020 Adrian Goldsworthy (P)2020 Basic Books

Critic reviews

"An impressive dual biography.... Goldsworthy expertly mines ancient sources to parse fact from legend.... This is a fascinating and richly detailed look at two men who 'changed the course of history.'" (Publishers Weekly)

"Riveting...Goldsworthy is the best sort of writer on ancient times. He eschews psychohistory, explains the wildly unfamiliar culture of that era, and speculates carefully...An outstandingly fresh look at well-trodden ground." (Kirkus, starred review)

"Philip and Alexander is another wonderful product of Adrian Goldsworthy's historical craft - sterling scholarship, engaging prose, insightful analysis, and unbiased assessment. Goldsworthy explores brilliantly the complex relationship between father and son, the failure of the Greek city-states to stop them, the proper credit for the Macedonian expansion, and the megalomania of Alexander's near global conquests. A brilliant account of how father and son changed the world, for both good and bad." (Victor Davis Hanson, author of A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War)

What listeners say about Philip and Alexander

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Horrible narrator

I liked this book, but the annoying voice of the narrator didn't make it enjoyable to listen to. Hearing him lisp the name Demosthenes is truly something scary.

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10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great, but inconsistent pronunciation.

A great piece of writing with steady, clear reading. However no consistency or normalcy in pronunciation. “Roxanne” is pronounced at least three different ways throughout the book, as an example. Same with “Patroclus” and others. Would take me out of it/require me to slow down and wonder what they were referring to. All in all a great book, though.

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5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Overwhelming at times

Not being a scholar on Ancient Greece or that era I found myself having to research names and places. I found that once I studied an ancient map of the area and did some homework the book became easier to comprehend. Loads of information and journal accounts.

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5 people found this helpful

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Goldsworthy knocks it out of the park again

My favorite author of ancient history covers the dynamic history of the great conqueror and his dad.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Exceptional!

The author has clearly spent a long time studying, and portrays the lives of King Philip and Alexander the Great with great detail. I couldn't stop listening to this book until it had finished, and I enjoyed the way he compared them with Roman's, and made some modern references as well.

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3 people found this helpful

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Engaging and Educational

Constantly engaging. A lot of the information contained in this book was information about Philip and Alexander that I did not previously know. Well written and the narrator is not monotone or boring.

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2 people found this helpful

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well done

it's really good at first I struggled to listen to this book that was also because I at the time wasn't concentrating but once I got back into the book I couldn't put it down

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic Book on Alexander and Phillip

This was a gripping story. I listened to the whole thing in 3 days because I was fascinated. I am working my way through ancient Greek history and looked at several books on Alexander after finishing Xenophons works. Most of the books on Alexander seem to fall into two pitfalls that disinterested me. 1. A seriously bizarre and creepy obsession with his personal relationships/ sex life and 2. Not disclosing that many accounts of Alexander are contradictory and unverifiable.

Adrian Goldsworthy did a fantastic job of clearly stating when accounts contradicted each other, and was insistent about not pushing something as fact that was unproven, given the passing of time and lack of evidence. I appreciate this approach, as I wanted to know the history of this time period, as accurately as possible. Additionally, I was unaware of just how much Phillip did to set the stage for Alexander. That portion of the book was completely new information and very much appreciated. Given how little remains of ancient authors works to tell Phillips story, there was still a good amount of the book dedicated to him. I also appreciated the lack of 21st century judgement of the actions of someone so far removed from us. While the realization of so many lives lost often needlessly is in itself horrifying, the author leaves those kinds of things largely up to the listener to ruminate on.


Finally, I found the narrator, Neil Dickson, pleasant to listen to, with good pronunciation and delivery. I would definitely choose another book read by him.

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Strange weight in strange places

The narrator did a good job.

The author seems very fixated on presenting Alexander and Philip as twenty first century style heterosexuals to the point of giving actual weight to the Barsine story which is much less well-attested than Alexander’s relationship with Hephaestion. He also mentions the erection of statues to two Athenian heroes without mentioning that they were lovers (a historical certitude) and gets up to lots of other little things like this. He has a clear agenda to present a purely heterosexual Alexander and then accuses others of queer washing him. Both positions are stupid and ignorant of Classical culture which was enthusiastically omnisexual for elite males. I have no investment one way or the other in how people need to see the ancients and did not grab the book with an eye to debating Alexander’s sexuality (at least one maybe two pregnant wives at his death, one maybe two male lovers during and before these marriages), but the author’s “we can’t know” whenever the ancient sources say he was sexual with a man versus this guy’s clear and emphatic “his mistress” regarding Barsine is some 1950s level of willful distortion given that while possible it is much less well attested than the kiss with Bagoas and all the heat with Hephaestion. He also presents Barsine’s supposed son by Alexander as fact, when the majority of ancient writers doubt he was the son of either Barsine or Alexander.

And do not even get me started on his very poor understanding of actual military tactics from the ancient world, no comment there because people are so universally bad on that topic that I half expected it.

Anyway, good reader. Bad book. If you could get your money back for feeling “ugh” about a text I would.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Masterpiece on Alexander.

Read them all, this is the best book on Alexander The G. Great narration as well.

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