Alexander the Great. Man of Action/Man of Spirit (ISBN 0-8109-2833-7) is a tiny book but definitely worth its value. Pierre Briant manages to give the reader a brief but captivating overview of Alexander’s life and conquests. The book is richly illustrated with colored photographs of good quality, each carrying its own comment, meaning that even the superficial reader will pick up plenty of information about the thundering exploits of Alexander the Great without having to strain himself. There are also a couple of colored maps to clarify the routes which Alexander and his army followed, a non-negligible asset in my eyes.
Most unexpected however is the figure material that Briant manages to integrate without being boring or overwhelming. The number of troops and cavalry that are involved on both sides in the skirmishes and battlefields all along the way east, and the extensive booty in gold, silver, jewelry, etc. captured at the Royal Palaces in Persia (Babylon, Susa, Persepolis, Pasargadae and Ecbatana). He even manages to squeeze in the names of the writers from antiquity that he used as his sources.
Alexander’s exploits are put down on nice glossy paper whereas the second half of the book is printed on normal white paper. This second half contains excerpts from Alexander’s historians, Arrian, Diodorus and Plutarch to name just a few; a couple of pages about Alexander’s successors quoting Justin, Diodorus, Quintus Curtius, Aelian and Plutarch; and finally a chapter about Alexander’s legend. The book would, of course, not be complete without an analysis and maps of the Battle of Gaugamela and a glance at the grave site at Vergina where it is generally accepted that Alexander’s father, King Philip, has been buried. A helpful Chronology, Further Reading and a List of Illustrations conclude this passionate account of Alexander’s conquests.
In short, whether you are a seasoned reader or a timid novice on the subject of Alexander the Great, there is enough material in this book to entice everyone.