Alexander the Great Book Summary - Alexander the Great Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Alexander the Great summary

Philip Freeman

The Macedonian who conquered the world

4.6 (323 ratings)
28 mins

Brief summary

'Alexander the Great' by Philip Freeman offers a comprehensive and engaging biography of one of history's most iconic figures. Freeman explores Alexander's military prowess and his impact on the ancient world, shedding light on the man behind the legend.

Table of Contents

    Alexander the Great
    Summary of 12 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 12

    Born into the Macedonian royal family, Alexander the Great’s talents were spotted early on.

    Alexander was born in 356 BC, in the northern region of Greece known as Macedonia.

    His father, Philip II of Macedon, was a legendary conqueror who managed the impressive feat of bringing nearly all of the Greek states under his control.

    Though an imposing father figure, Philip was soon impressed by Alexander.

    One day, a horse dealer offered Philip an extremely majestic horse for an extremely high price. This horse was reputed to be untameable, however, so Philip turned down the offer. But the young Alexander, who was around 13 at the time, intervened, imploring his father not to pass up such an opportunity.

    Alexander’s public outburst infuriated Philip, but he proposed a deal: If Alexander could mount the animal, he would buy it.

    Alexander was quite clever, and he realized the horse was only jumpy when it caught sight of its own shadow. So Alexander simply led the horse into the sun and, once it was calm, skillfully mounted it.

    This horse was named Bucephalus – and became one of the most famous animals in history.

    Everyone, including his father, was astounded. Philip proudly proclaimed, "My son, you must seek out a kingdom equal to yourself – Macedonia is not big enough for you!”

    Philip’s pride didn’t last long, however; indeed, the young Alexander’s talents made his father feel increasingly threatened.

    When Alexander outperformed his father on the field of battle, Philip had had enough and began efforts to rein in his son’s growing popularity.

    To punish Alexander, Philip divorced Alexander’s mother, Olympias, and quickly remarried. In an effort to keep things relatively calm, however, Philip invited Alexander to the wedding banquet, where everyone proceeded to drink, according to custom, vast quantities of wine.

    When a guest offered to toast the happy couple and the prospect of a new heir, Alexander, in a drunken rage, threw his cup across the table. Philip drew his sword, but, with a belly full of wine, promptly fell to the floor.

    To escape the situation, Alexander and his mother fled to her homeland in the mountains of Epirus. Happily, however, mediation efforts were successful, and they soon returned.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Alexander the Great?

    Key ideas in Alexander the Great

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Alexander the Great about?

    The eponymous hero of Alexander the Great (2011) is remembered as one of the greatest military commanders who ever lived. Setting out from Greece at the age of 21, Alexander waged a ten-year campaign, during which he defeated the Persian Achaemenids and, in so doing, created the largest empire the world had ever seen. By spreading Greek culture and language throughout Eurasia, his legacy remained influential for centuries after.

    Alexander the Great Review

    Alexander the Great (2011) by Philip Freeman is an engaging biography that explores the life and conquests of one of history's most legendary figures. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • Through vivid storytelling, it brings Alexander's journey to life and offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient world.
    • Backed by extensive research, the book provides a comprehensive understanding of Alexander's military strategies and his impact on the regions he conquered.
    • The author's impartial approach allows readers to form their own opinions about the controversial aspects of Alexander's reign, making for a thought-provoking read.

    Best quote from Alexander the Great

    The small battlefield at Issus all but eliminated the advantage of Dariuss larger army, which numbered, by contemporaneous Greek estimates, around 600,000 men.

    —Philip Freeman
    example alt text

    Who should read Alexander the Great?

    • People interested in how Greek culture became so dominant
    • History buffs interested in military strategy
    • Students of ancient history

    About the Author

    Philip Freeman is a professor of classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a respected and renowned author. His numerous books include Julius Caesar and St. Patrick of Ireland.

    Categories with Alexander the Great

    Book summaries like Alexander the Great

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    30 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Alexander the Great FAQs 

    What is the main message of Alexander the Great?

    The main message of Alexander the Great is the remarkable story of the legendary conqueror who built an empire and shaped the course of history.

    How long does it take to read Alexander the Great?

    The reading time for Alexander the Great varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Alexander the Great a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Alexander the Great is a captivating read that brings history to life. It offers a deep understanding of one of history's most influential figures and is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Alexander the Great?

    The author of Alexander the Great is Philip Freeman.

    What to read after Alexander the Great?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Alexander the Great, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts
    • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
    • The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper
    • The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
    • Bedtime Biography: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
    • Mythos by Stephen Fry
    • Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod