Thursday, March 16, 2017

Alexander the Great: Journey to the End of the Earth by Norman F. Cantor with Dee Ranieri (2005)

There were two very interesting things in this very short book.  First, there aren't very many biographies of Alexander the Great and this book actually has a section on that very thing, describing each book written about Alexander and what they do right and wrong.

Second, Cantor really calls a spade a spade.  He frankly refers to the ancient Greeks as pedophiles (they were) and also matter of factly refers to Alexander's homosexuality.  He might have slept with women, but he liked men way better.  He didn't like boys, he liked men.  I know that "gay" is a modern construct, but (at least in my head) Alexander starts skating close to a modern gay.

Other than those two things, this book had sort of a throwaway quality.

Side note:  who was Dee Ranieri?  She didn't score any mention on the cover, just on the title page.  This is kind a television show sort of thing to do (See this:  http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AndStarring).  I imagine Dee Ranieri was some sort of assistant who wrote a big chunk of this book.  But I can't find out anything about her (him).


Alexander the Great: Journey to the End of the EarthAlexander the Great: Journey to the End of the Earth by Norman F. Cantor
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked two things about this book. First, there really aren't all that many biographies, scholarly or otherwise, about Alexander the Great, and that fact is a small section of this book. Cantor (or Dee Ranieri? Whoever Dee is) went through each of these books, what was bad and good about each. I thought that was fascinating, actually - sort of meta. And two, Cantor calls a spade a spade. He comes down on the ancient Greeks for their pedophilia (such an unpleasant and weird juxtaposition, the men who invented democracy also loved pubescent boys. Yuck.). He also is unabashed about Alexander's gayness. Alexander was not a pedophile like his fellow Greeks. He loved grown men. Women in Alexander's life were pretty much to be married as political pawns; it was men he wanted to be with. Perhaps that explains the dearth of biographies; the life of Alexander until very recently is a hot potato when it comes to his proclivities. Other than these two things (and the mystery of Dee), the book was sort of a throwaway (though not a "throw down").


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