Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Frank L. Holt's "The Treasures of Alexander the Great"

Frank L. Holt is Professor of History at the University of Houston and the author of Lost World of the Golden King, Into the Land of Bones, Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions, and Thundering Zeus.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Treasures of Alexander the Great: How One Man's Wealth Shaped the World, and reported the following:
Imagine judging a movie by watching its 99th minute, or asking customer number 99 whether to order the soup of the day, or worse yet, walking through a bookstore and reading page 99 of everything on the shelves. The catch, call it catch-99 if you wish, is that Ford Madox Ford’s random sample works only if the rule itself fails. The moment it succeeds and becomes common practice, film-makers will make sure that minute 99 is a thriller, restaurants will treat customer 99 to the finest cuisine, and publishers will tell typesetters to flag page 99 for special editing: Rules are made to be brokered. Meanwhile, for those curious about page 99 of The Treasures of Alexander the Great, it falls exactly half way through the text (the notes begin on page 199). Appropriately, page 99 reflects half the story. It captures the noble side of the young king’s character and conquests. There readers discover that Alexander singled out his mother and sister to share in his war-won wealth, and that his generosity extended as well to the royal women of Persia and to the wives, widows, and concubines of his soldiers. This is the good-hearted leader of the Greeks who warred to make a better world for winners and losers alike. He built cities and temples, funded the arts, honored the deities of diverse lands, and left money enough to raise the standard of living for generations to come. A different sampling, however, takes the reader into the darker corners of this great drama. The vast treasures that Alexander shared and invested were the spoils of war, and it does no good to bleach the blood out of history. War transfers wealth violently through battles, sieges, massacres, confiscations, enslavement, deportation, and even outright extermination. This book calculates as fully as possible not only the good that Alexander did in his short life, but also the evils that his victories unleashed.
Learn more about The Treasures of Alexander the Great at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue