The best books about Alexander the Great 📚

Browse the best books on Alexander the Great as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of A Choice of Destinies

A Choice of Destinies

By Melissa Scott

Why this book?

Melissa Scott has written the best “What would’ve happened if Alexander didn’t die?” alternate history. It’s a popular question among historians, but usually assumes he survived his final illness. Scott takes a different tack, choosing instead to diverge some years before his death. Here, he returns from Asia to put down a revolt in Greece. After that, he goes west, against first Rome, then Carthage. Although the characters aren’t as fleshed out as in some of her later military SF (this was an early work), her grasp of military maneuvers and politics, for which she would later earn attention,…
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The best novels about Alexander the Great

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Book cover of A Conspiracy of Women

A Conspiracy of Women

By Aubrey Menen

Why this book?

“And now for something completely different,” I offer some satiric whimsy from Indo-Irish author Aubry Menen. He belonged to Renault’s generation, not Tarr’s, Graham’s, or Scott’s. This novel, published in 1965, is historical allegory rather than historical fiction. Menen changes historical events in order to suit his plot and message, which is to poke fun at British presumption. The result is a delightfully wicked parallel between the arrogant and ethnocentric Macedonians and the nineteenth-century imperialistic Brits, set against a far older Indian culture. Yet Menen didn’t spare the self-righteousness of Indian brahmins and rajas, either. Menen spares no one. While…
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The best novels about Alexander the Great

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Book cover of Persepolis: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Persian Empire's Capital City

Persepolis: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Persian Empire's Capital City

By Charles River Editors

Why this book?

The city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great, or at least named in his honour. And Alexander the Great is responsible for wiping out other fabled cities. Most notably, the ancient Persian city of Persepolis, located in modern-day Iran. Finally, a place you can actually visit! But the massive palace lies in ruins, nowhere near its original splendour with all the statuary and furnishings, and the pomp and majesty of Persia’s kings and courtiers—at the time when Persia was a global superpower.

Around 2,000 years ago, Alexander the Great’s troops looted Persepolis and burned it to the ground.…

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The best books on the best places you have never been to

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Book cover of Fire from Heaven

Fire from Heaven

By Mary Renault

Why this book?

Any recommendation list of novels about Alexander must include Mary Renault, queen of Greek historical fiction. Fire from Heaven covers his childhood/youth and remains many readers’ initial introduction to him. Her knowledge of Greece, both the land and its history, is rich, and she was first to depict, in a positive way, Alexander’s relationship with Hephaistion as more than friendship. Ironically, the book’s publication coincided with the NYC Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. Yet however progressive her view of homoerotic attachments, she paints a troublingly misogynistic portrait of Alexander’s mother Olympias. The book contains a few errors as…
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The best novels about Alexander the Great

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Book cover of Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire

By James Romm

Why this book?

It is this book, about the successors of Alexander the Great, that inspired me to write my first novel, the Atlantis Papyrus. It is a great read—the pages feel less like an academic paper and more like an action novel and keeps one’s interest until the very end. I learned about so many fascinating figures in Alexander’s world I had never really known about and the tumultuous years following his death. In my work, I drew inspiration from some of the characters and events depicted in this book.

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The best books on Cleopatra and ancient Egypt

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Book cover of Stealing Fire

Stealing Fire

By Jo Graham

Why this book?

Although Stealing Fire takes place during the early Successor Wars that followed Alexander’s death, it contains enough flashbacks to qualify as about Alexander too. Or really, about Hephaistion, whose presence is stronger. Like Renault and Tarr, Graham depicts Hephaistion’s relationship with Alexander as more than friendship. Her main character Lysias began as Hephaistion’s groom, then became an officer under his command. Lysias hero-worships Hephaistion. After Hephaistion’s, then Alexander’s, deaths, he falls under the command of Ptolemy, helping him to establish the Ptolemaic empire in Egypt. Like Tarr, Graham does very well at showing magic as conceived of in the…
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The best novels about Alexander the Great

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