Ashland University Professor Publishes Book on Conquerors

Ashland University Professor Publishes Book on Conquerors

3/13/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Dr. Justin D. Lyons, associate professor of history and political science at Ashland University, has published a book titled “Alexander the Great and Hernán Cortés: Ambiguous Legacies of Leadership.”

The book, published this year by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., is a biographical pairing of two of the greatest conquerors in human history, drawing its inspiration from Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives.”

“Like Plutarch, the purpose of the pairing is not primarily historical,” Lyons said. “While Plutarch covers the history of each of the lives he chronicles, he also emphasizes questions of character and the larger lessons of politics to be derived from the deeds he recounts.”

The book provides a narrative account both of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire and Cortés’s conquest of the Aztec Empire while reflecting on the larger questions that emerge from each.

The campaign narratives are followed by essays devoted to leadership and command that seek to recover the treasures of the Plutarchian approach shaped by moral and political philosophy.

An analysis of leadership style and abilities is joined with assessment of character. Special emphasis is given to the speeches provided in historical sources and meditation on rhetorical successes and failures in maintaining the morale and willing service of their men.

In his editorial review of the book, Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College writes “At the height of the Roman empire, when despotism had so long been the order of the day that it seemed as if there were no other options, Plutarch of Chaeronea composed parallel lives of the noble Greeks and Romans with an eye to keeping alive in memory as a human possibility political liberty and the statesmanship to which it once gave rise. Taking a page from Plutarch’s script in a time when campaigns of conquest seem a relic of the past, Justin Lyons asks us in this gracefully written volume to compare as leaders, as statesmen, and human beings Alexander the Great and Hernán Cortés. We must hope that this book is the first in a series of parallel lives that he will write.”

The book is available at the Ashland University Bookstore as well as online locations and stores such as and Barnes and Noble.

Lyons, who joined Ashland University in 2004, received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in politics from the Institute of Philosophic Studies, University of Dallas as well as an M.A. from The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###