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Monday, December 03, 2012


The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander edited by James Romm - Book review

The Landmark Arrian

The Campaigns of Alexander

Edited by: JamesRomm, Ph.D.

Translated by: Pamela Mensch

Published: January 27, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback, 560 pages
ISBN-10: 1400079675
ISBN-13: 978-1400079674
Publisher: Anchor

"There are many reasons for a modern reader to be interested in Arrian's Anabasis, by far the primary one is Alexander. The campaigns of this intensely compelling warrior-king can be followed by way of four ancient and dozens of modern narratives, but Arrian's holds the unique appeal of being both reasonably reliable and exceptionally well told", writes James H Ottaway Professor of Classical Studies at Bard College, James Romm, Ph.D., in his outstanding and landmark edition of Translated by: Pamela Mensch. The editor presents this superb translation by Pamela Mensch of second century CE historian Arrian's account of the military campaigns of the legendary Macedonian king and conqueror known as Alexander the Great.

James Romm presents a heavily annotated edition, complete with a lavish helping of maps and photographs, to guide the reader on the historic campaigns of Alexander. The second century CE Roman historian Lucius Favius Arrianus, better known as Arrian, wrote what is widely regarded as the finest and most authoritative account of the major events in Alexander's military career.

As a military leader himself, Arrian put together the memoirs of Ptolemy, and added his personal military insights gained through his own career. The result is his magnificent account of Alexander the Great, his battles and conquests, and the world in which he lived and fought. Utilizing the superb and very compelling modern translation by Pamela Mensche, James Romm provides an outstanding edition of the ancient texts.

James Romm (photo left) recognizes the shortcomings in in Arrian's historical narrative. While there may be gaps in the historical accounts, the author points out that there is no lack of respect for both Alexander himself, and for the soldiers who served under his command. To ensure that modern readers are able to follow the text, James Romm provides copious notes along with the well translated text, including the use of either modern or more familiar classical names for places and events.

The Arrian text includes the following chapters that cover the campaigns of Alexander the Great through his brief but turbulent career as a military commander. The seven books are as follows:

* Book One: The Campaigns in Europe and Western Asia
* Book Two: The Campaigns in Western Asia (II) and Phoenicia
* Book Three: The Egyptian Sojourn and the Campaign against Darius
* Book Four: The Campaign in Bactria and Sogdiana
* Book Five: The Indian Campaign (I)
* Book Six: The Indian Campaign (II) and the Return from the East
* Book Seven: The Return to Babylon

For me, the power of the book is how James Romm captures the power and scope of the writings of Arrian. Combined with the vivid translation work of Pamela Mensch, the books take on the voice of Arrian, and convey the sweeping panorama of the ancient world and the role played by Alexander in shaping it. The changes and achievements of Alexander the Great were so deeply profound and lasting, that their echoes are still heard in the region today.

James Romm adds to the overall value of the book through the inclusion of a series of essays by leading classical scholars who add depth to the story of Alexander and his many land and sea campaigns. These many appendixes fill in the various gaps in the text, and also add historical perspective to the events. The inclusion of many maps, battlefield reconstructions, and photographs enhances the overall experience of reading this magnificent book.

I highly recommend the definitive and very accessible book The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander edited by James Romm, Ph.D., to anyone interested in ancient or military history, students and academics, military enthusiasts, business people studying leadership, and those following the origin and development of tensions between East and West. This book is more than a history of the campaigns of Alexander, but a seminal work of art in and of itself.


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