This book, derived from the author's dissertation, is a masterpiece and a must for anyone with a deep interest in the Hellenistic Kingdoms in general, and Alexander's Successors in particular. As another reviewer on the US site has already mentioned, it is - almost - two books in one. The first part (Antigono's Life and Career) is a political and military history, with as many bibliographical elements of the life and character of Antigonus the One-Eyed as can be pieced together from the surviving sources. The second part (Antigonos as Ruler of a Hellenistic Empire) is an assessment of his rule, of his relations with his subjects and in particular with the Greeks, and of his considerable legacy.
One of the author's main merits is to manage to bring to life a rather extraordinary character, the father of the flamboyant Demetrios, and the founder of the Antigonid dynasty who would take-over the ancestral heartland of Macedon under his grand-son (Antigonos II Gonatas) and rule the Kingdom of Macedonia until its conquest by the Romans. Given the limited source material and its often biased nature - then, as know, history tended to be written by the victors - and Antigonos the One-Eyed was killed in the final battle of Ipsos in BC 301 against a coalition of all of his four main rivals. This, in itself, shows how powerful the old Macedonian veteran of Philip's wars (he was an almost exact contemporary of Alexander's father) had become by the time he died in battle at over 80 years of age.
Another merit of this book is to show how powerful he had become in building what can only be seen as his Empire. At its peak, he controlled all of Anatolia (Asia Minor, most of modern Turkey), Syria, Phoenicia and Coele Syria (modern Lebanon, Palestine and most if not all of Jordan). At one point, he also held all of Mesopotamia, Cyprus and Greece up to the Thessaly. Between him and his sons (and not only Demetrios), his military resources were larger than what any of his rivals could field, his financial resources almost equalled those of Egypt and his fleet was unrivalled once the Egyptian fleet had been crushed by Demetrios at Salamis (Cyprus) in BC 306. During most of the fifteen years between BC 316, once Eumene had been eliminated and BC 301, he was also the main employer of mercenaries in the Greek and Macedonian world. His military resources are layered out in detail in one of the book's annexes. Another annex includes a list of vignettes of all the main officers and officials who served him at one time or another, showing his ability to attract talent and rally support, including from the former supporters of some of his enemies.
A third merit is the thorough and in-depth discussion of his achievements, his legacy and his key role in the formation of Hellenistic Monarchies. This second part of the book, is perhaps the most innovative but also the most controversial. The importance of the old Successor in the formation of the Hellenistic Monarchies was largely underestimated prior to Richard Billows remarkable piece of scholarship, with the merits being mainly divided between Alexander himself and mainly Seleukos and Ptolemy (and Cassandre and Lysimachus to a lesser extent). The author shows that Alexander's city founding mainly had strategic and military objectives and, anyway, he had little time to go beyond this. He also shows to what extent Seleukos mat have taken over and appropriated Antigonos' legacy. This is perhaps where, at times, the author may have gone too far because it is extremely difficult, in many cases, to determine to what extent an initial city foundation by Antigonos was just taken-over (and possibly renamed) or whether it was substantially modified and expanded, apart from a few specific and well-known cases, such as that of Antioch which was built from materials taken from Antigonos' foundation located a few miles away.
This is something that the author acknowledges, mentioning that as he studied his subject more and more in depth, he warmed up to it and had to make a conscience effort to remain objective. This warning in itself, tells you something about the author's ethics and honesty. Not all historians are able to acknowledge their limitations and admit that they might have developed a favourable bias for a topic that they so obviously enjoyed in writing about.
This major and superb book is well worth five stars.