Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend

Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules are the opening words of the most famous military song in English: the march known as ?The British Grenadiers.? The pairing of the greatest general of antiquity and a mythical hero is quite appropriate; for while Alexander the Great actually lived, he had passed into myth even before his death in 323 B.C. In his short life of little more than three decades, Alexander mastered the largest empire yet known to man and, as his deeds were remembered and retold, they took on the shape of stories like Hercules? labors. Within a century, an entire body of fantastical literature had been collected, now known as the Alexander Legend, and its influence was felt across three continents. Translated and reinterpreted, Alexander appears in everything from the Bible (Book of Daniel) to the Qu?ran (as Dhu?l-qarnain, the "Two-Horned One") to the Persian national epic, the Shahnameh (as Sekandar). It is this generation and transmission of lore that Richard Stoneman surveys in Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend. His thematic book opens a brilliant window into the afterlife of ancient myth, ranging over classical, medieval, and Renaissance sources with passing references to Borges, Proust, and even Thomas Bernhard. Alexander may have failed in his dreams of conquering Rome and Carthage, but he achieved immortality nonetheless. Greek fishermen still know what to do when a two-tailed mermaid roils the sea crying out "Where is Alexander the Great?" Only shouting "He lives and reigns and keeps the world at peace" will stay the mermaid from plunging the ship to the bottom.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.