Richard A. Billows
Before and After Alexander
The Legend and Legacy of Alexander the Great
The Overlook Press 2018
The achievements of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great are often presented as primarily the work of a singular genius. As Richard A. Billows demonstrates in his book Before and After Alexander: The Legend and Legacy of Alexander the Great (The Overlook Press, 2018), such an interpretation ignores the considerable advantages that he inherited. Foremost among them was Macedonia itself, which was a kingdom rich in resources, especially when compared to the more economically marginal Greek city-states to the south. Recognizing the advantages that Macedonia possessed and utilizing them to defeat Balkan invaders, Alexander’s father Philip II began the process of turning Macedonia’s potential into reality. By reorganizing the Macedonian military and employing it effectively in a series of wars, Philip forged it into a fearsome fighting force that Alexander inherited upon his father’s assassination in 336 BCE. It was by employing the generals of Philip’s armies and the tactics they developed that Alexander won most of his battles that defined his reputation. Yet Alexander’s death meant that it was left to his successors to take his conquests and turn them into the governable kingdoms which cemented Alexander’s achievement and extended Greek civilization throughout the Near East.