In Search of the Lost Testament of Alexander the Great
In Search of the Lost Testament of Alexander the Great is the definitive guide to the life and death of one of the greatest military leaders of the ancient world. Written by ancient historian, David Grant, the large majority of this research was originally adapted from a thesis centered around Alexander (356 - 323 BCE). The content would organically grow and continue to evolve for years to come. You can immediately tell that this was research driven by passion. Dissatisfied by modern reconstructions of the life and death of Alexander III of Macedon, this same passion drove the author to compile his research into this massive 850+ page tome.
First and foremost, I need to come out and say that this is an extremely well written publication. The author displays a unique skill of piecing together what could often be deemed as “dry” facts and presents them in such a way to keep the reader’s interest. However, while Grant does an excellent job with articulating his thoughts, his writing style may not cater to a general audience. The interwoven use of words in Greek, Latin, sometimes German, and more (often without translation) may throw the reader off for a bit. Now, that fact should definitely not deter you from picking up a copy of this material. Especially, if you have an interest in the life (and death) of the Macedonian monarch. One must remember, this was originally a thesis written for a different audience.
Almost immediately, the author begins the book by introducing the reader to the many uncertainties of the few surviving testimonies of the last days of Alexander’s life in Babylon. Wracked with fevers and knowing that the end was very near, did he ever name a successor or establish a Will of sorts? Ancient historians are silent on this. And whether he did or did not name a successor, his generals would begin to war amongst themselves as they divide the now dead emperor’s newly established kingdom.
The first chapter gives us a detailed overview of Alexander's life and conquests. It even illustrates the state of world affairs (under Persian rule). This great introduction is followed by tackling the author's original question (see above), while questioning the validity or reliability of eyewitness accounts and source materials, especially during his final days on Earth; the details of which are very difficult to capture in such a review.
I appreciate the author’s courageous attempt to challenge conventional wisdom and in many ways he does succeed. He parses through the often contradictory ancient sources while also citing archaeological evidence to further his agenda. By cross referencing the same ancient sources, we are given a glimpse into the often arrogant mind of the young king, his almost constant reckless behavior, his desire for more, and his inability to be content with what he had accomplished.
Anyway, this was a great read and I would definitely recommend it.