Synopses & Reviews
"A book about a lost book, Young's work diligently recounts the History of Alexander's Conquests of Ptolemy Lagides, a Macedonian officer who accompanied Alexander the Great during his conquests and who was later to lead the city of Alexandria in its triumph after Alexander's death. Young's text is an important addition to the historic saga, particularly because Ptolemy's is the only recoverable text in that earlier time period. Young reveals the layers of Ptolemy's personal biases and gains, making for an interesting treatment. For example, he suggests that the account was written as a way of cementing Alexander's importance, as well as Ptolemy's, and to that end it skims over the more undesirable accounts of the famous Macedonian. Of note is Young's description of the Library at Alexandra and its splendor, including it as a reference for when Ptolemy's work was written. A book for the general reader particularly interested in literary forensics and battle strategy, the text gives a comprehensive analysis of Alexander's years in expansion. Unfortunately, Young has a difficult time bridging the gap between the two interests, and readers, depending on their preference, may find sections tedious. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A Reconstruction of Ptolemy Is History of Alexanders Conquests
, a Primary Source Cited in Later Books That Disappeared More Than One Thousand Years Ago
Alexander the Great is well known as one of the first great empire builders of the ancient world. Among those fellow Macedonian officers who accompanied Alexander in his epic conquests from Greece to India was Ptolemy Lagides. Ptolemy served alongside Alexander from the Persian defeat at the Battle of Issus in modern-day Turkey and the journey to find the oracle that proclaimed Alexander to be Zeus incarnate, to the Battle of the Hydaspes River in 326 BC that opened India to the West. Following Alexanders death, Ptolemy gained control of Egypt where he founded the dynasty in his name, created the great library of Alexandria, and was patron of the mathematician Euclid. Sometime during his rule in Egypt, Ptolemy wrote a history of Alexanders conquests. Although it is probable that Ptolemy enhanced his own importance, sources indicate that it was regarded as an accurate and even-handed account of the campaigns of Alexander. However, Ptolemys book was lostperhaps with the destruction of the library he foundedand not even an original fragment has survived. His book, however, was acknowledged as a primary source of information for later Roman historians.
In The Lost Book of Alexander the Great, Andrew Young explores the world of ancient writings about the Macedonian leader in order to determine whether any of Ptolemys writings can be recovered. Inspired by Stephen Greenblatts distinguished biography of Shakespeare, Will in the World, and written for the general reader, the author uses literary forensics to suggest which parts of later books about Alexander the Great, most notably the account by Arrian of Nicomedia, might be the words of Ptolemy. In addition to separating later Roman sensibilities from the original Greek of Ptolemy, the author re-creates the famous library of Alexandria, and takes the reader along on Alexanders conquests as closely as we can to how Ptolemy may have recounted them.
About the Author
ANDREW YOUNG has a BA in ancient history and a MA in public history from Northern Kentucky University. An avid history writer, he has contributed to a number of web sites and maintains a popular blog on Alexander the Great.