Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Alexander the Great

I just finished reading Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott. Jacob was one of a pair of brothers, John being the other one, who wrote a series of historical biographies for young people in the 1800s. The books begin with Cyrus the Great and move chronologically up to the time of Napoleon, which was recent history at the time of writing.

This book is a very general history of Alexander the Great that gives a big-picture view of his life. It was originally written for young people, so it is fairly simplified and contains quite a few educational excursions on such topics as Greek mythology, how oases are formed, how camels survive in the desert, etc. However, it is well-written, exciting, and energetic. I'm planning on reading Paul Cartledge's book on Alexander the Great soon and wanted a general overview of Alexander's life in narrative form before I wade into the historiography of it all. This is just the sort of book I was looking for, and it would serve well as a good introduction to Alexander for both younger and older readers.

4/5 stars

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