Richard A. Gabriel-The Madness of Alexander the Great and the Myth of Military Genius

Jul 2017
90
Romania
Ok. So i started this book by Richard Gabriel( i didnt finished it yet) about Alexander, and i want to know if someone else has read it. He say that his ranking as one of the greatest generals in history is quite undeserved and that Alexander we know is more like a literacy creation. He argues that most of his injuries, especially in his first part of campaigns, are exagerated for the sake of making him look like a great and fearless warrior. His first real injury was at a siege, when he was 27 years old, when he receive a stone at the back of his head, wich made him pass out and for some time he was very weak;he barely had the strenght to speak or to move. R. Gabriel suggested that his brain was affected, and this accelerated his really bad behaviour into having post traumatic stress disorder. Another argument from him was that Alexander went to the tracian campaign,because he was an inexperienced commander and that those tribes posed no treath. In this way, with the help of his veteran officers and lieutenants, he would gain some experience before going to invade the Persian Empire. I saw that some people from this forum quoted Richard Gabriel and said that he is a good historian. If someone read this work of his, please share you're views about it.
 

Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,340
Australia
I haven't read the book myself, but Gabriel does have a pretty good (yet a tad fantastical) book on Philip, Alexander's father. Some of the ideas you've presented from his book seem very far-fetched, I'll have to read it to judge for myself. There's no doubt that Alexander had a two-decade old army and general staff to help make decisions for him.
 

markdienekes

Ad Honorem
Apr 2010
4,875
Oxford
Gabriel is hit and miss with me, his Scipio book is great, his Hannibal one lazy and fairly poor (though with a few sections of interesting stuff). I've been interested in reading this one, but haven't got it yet.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,872
Cornwall
It's very difficult to put across these ideas whilst realising he must surely have had something about him? Otherwise in the ruthless nature of the times they would either have not followed him or got rid! Rather than let him become the world's greatest conqueror.
 
Jul 2017
90
Romania
Ok, i managed to finish this book. Throughout his book, he focus more on the psychology of Alexander and his character. The only times when he talks about his millitary exploits, he points his exaggerated battle wounds, wich i tend to believe; his unnecesary atrocities inflicted of various tribes; his need to proove that he is the best, costing many lives on the Gedrosian desert and other places etc. The most expected part of the book by me, was the last chapter. Here he talks alot about Philip and his creation of the macedonian millitary system, wich helped Alexander in his campaigns; and that many tactics and strategies Alexander used, it was inspired from his father.He also mentioned that he inherited one of the most experienced army and staff. Richard ends his work by saying that Alexander was at most, a savage conquistador who cared little for anything or anyone beyond himself, and who didnt had a sense of strategy or national vision for his people...for that he consider he cant be judged as a great general or king. Well, i am not a big fan of Alexander. I mean i like his story; i find it fascinating the ideea of a man who conquers so much territory in short amount of time, and then dies at a very young age. But i always considered that he was, somehow, overrated and presented as an invincible commander who could have defetead everyone in his way, and all other great commander in history pales in comparison with him. Still, i consider the title of Richard book to be forced. Alexander deserve to be considered as one of the great captains in history
 
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Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,419
here
Were the major battles that Alexander fought against the Persians easily foreseen as victories?

Was there ever a real chance that Alexander and his army might be defeated at the Granicus, Issus or Gaugemela?

Were the Persian forces inferior to the Macedonians? If so, by how much? Was the difference glaring?

Could any other decent commander at the time have taken Alexander's place and consistently beat the Persians?
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,198
Slovenia, EU
No.

Yes. Especially at Gaugamela.

No.

No. Not because of lack of a skill but because they would as a rule make a deal after Issus to not squander all gains and to consolidate enormous gains. Alexander's push after getting an offer of a half of the Persian empire explains him to me as a madman.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,419
here
No.

Yes. Especially at Gaugamela.

No.

No. Not because of lack of a skill but because they would as a rule make a deal after Issus to not squander all gains and to consolidate enormous gains. Alexander's push after getting an offer of a half of the Persian empire explains him to me as a madman.
I tend to agree. That's why I think Alex is deserving of being called "the great."

He is not, imo, overrated.
 
Apr 2018
726
France
Alexander will be always discussed and hated, but I think that his Military Genius is real and not a myth. This having read several books in which his impact on the battles and campaigns has been considered in depth.

I suggest Paul Faure alexandre le grand (Alexander the Great).
 
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Duke Valentino

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,340
Australia
I think Alexander is probably overrated, but not by the extent Gabriel seems to posit. He certainly faced less in Persia than what is actually claimed, and he had an army of two decades experience and the best general staff in the world. But that's not to say that Alexander didn't do what he did off of Parmenion and others, Alexander was definitely a military genius. My main quabble is with the Persian army numbers, which are larger than they should be.