In response to:
Alexander, the Movie! from the January 13, 2005 issue
To the Editors:
During the process of emending and editing my review of Oliver Stone’s Alexander [“Alexander, the Movie!” NYR, January 13], an error of fact crept into my account of Alexander’s career. Alexander’s famous “only defeat”—his decision to turn back from India and head home—was not (as is suggested in Part 1 of my piece) motivated in part by the debilitating effects of the wound he received during the fight with the Mallian tribe; on the contrary, he received this grave injury in an engagement that took place when he and his army were already embarked on the rather circuitous journey home. In a section of my critique that I eventually ended up cutting from the finished piece, I had intended to criticize Stone’s script for suggesting that the wound occurred prior to, and helped motivate, Alexander’s decision not to go any further; that it does so is yet another instance of Stone’s getting his subject woefully wrong. Unfortunately, during some last-minute cutting and pasting on my part, my characterization of Stone’s mistake made its way into my own narrative of Alexander’s career.
Also, a line in Part 2 of my piece can be read, incorrectly, to suggest that the famous incident of the Gordian knot came after Alexander’s victory at Gaugemela in 331. This is, of course, not true: Alexander had long since cut the knot when he triumphed over Darius’ army for the third and last time.