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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lives and Times of the Diadochi
I've been interested in Alexander the Great for many years, but I've always been disappointed with the lack of books on what occured after his death. Usually in Alexander biographies the aftermath is only mentioned in passing, and if anyone wants to know what became of Alexander's successors they usually have to get hold of expensive works like Waldemar Heckel's 'The...
Published on 6 Aug 2008 by D. Evans

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good overview but some problems and some omissions
When this book was first published (mid-2008), it was indeed the most accessible piece focusing on Alexander's Successors. There were other books, of course, and not only in English (there a some excellent ones in French or German, for instance), but, as another commentator mentioned, these were either biographies of the main protagonists or books that covered the whole...
Published on 26 Jan 2012 by JPS


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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lives and Times of the Diadochi, 6 Aug 2008
By 
D. Evans - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
I've been interested in Alexander the Great for many years, but I've always been disappointed with the lack of books on what occured after his death. Usually in Alexander biographies the aftermath is only mentioned in passing, and if anyone wants to know what became of Alexander's successors they usually have to get hold of expensive works like Waldemar Heckel's 'The Marshals of Alexander's Empire'.

I was therefore looking forward to reading this book on Alexander's successors as it was the only cheap book on the subject I could find. I was definately not disappointed with the purchase as this book is well researched and very readable.

The book begins straight after Alexander's death as the Diadochi argue and fight over his corpse, with Perdiccas rising to the top. It is from here that we are taken on a chronological tour of the Hellenistic World, from 323 to 281 BC. Along the way, the authors give us biographies of the leading men of the age, from Ptolemy, who rose to become the Pharaoh of Egypt, Seleucus who ruled over the largest part of Alexander's Empire, as well as Antigonous and Lysimachus. You also get to know about the other figures of the period, such as Demetrius the Besieger and Pyrrhus of Epirus who are amongst the most fascinating figures in Classical History. These sections provide the reader with both a broad view of their lives, as well as an intimate look at their personalities, i.e. Seleucus's hatred of paperwork, the family feuds of Ptolemy, and the stingyness of Lysimachus.

Other chapters give us detailed looks on events such as the struggle for Macedonia, the Battle of Ipsus, and the constant fighting for control over Coele-Syria. The book finishes with a look at the battle of Corupedium in 281 BC, when the last of the Diadochi, Seleucus and Lysimachus, now in their seventies, fought near Sardis in Lydia.

The book is very well written and readable, and in some sections it even reads like a novel. In that respect if you have an interest in Alexander the Great or the Hellenistic World, then this book is a must have. I'm already looking forward to Volume II!

Note: Also contains a few black and white photographs and one basic map. If the book has one criticism it is that it should have contained more detailed and numerous maps.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 19 Oct 2008
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
For a very long time there has not been a single volume history of the wars of the Successors. Those interested in the period have had to piece together events from academic histories with wider scope (such as Green or NGL Hammond) or texts focussing on individuals and their histories (such as Heckel or Billows). At last we have a narrative history that covers the warring period from Alexanders death to the death of the last immediate Successor (Seleucus). This volume does an excellent job in following the wars between Alexanders generals, explaining the shifting loyalties and resulting battles as they each carved their own fiefdoms out of Alexanders empire. This is a well structured and very readable narrative that stands on its own despite claiming to be only the first volume. If there is a drawback, it is the failure to support the narrative with adequate maps. The narrative covers a lot of ground and would have benefitted from a series of larger scale maps that identified all the places discussed in the text.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good overview but some problems and some omissions, 26 Jan 2012
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
When this book was first published (mid-2008), it was indeed the most accessible piece focusing on Alexander's Successors. There were other books, of course, and not only in English (there a some excellent ones in French or German, for instance), but, as another commentator mentioned, these were either biographies of the main protagonists or books that covered the whole of the Hellenistic period down to the Roman Conquest (Peter Green's FRom Alexander to Actium being a case in point). So, this was the first book targeting the "general reader" (as opposed to the history student or specialist). Since then, Dividing the Spoils from Wakefield has been published and, in my view, it is better the the present volume.

Although the narrative is well told and quite a lot of content has been cramed into about 220 pages, there are several problems with this book.

Perhaps the first of them is precisely that too much content has been crammed into a limited amount of space, so that there is hardly any possibility for discussion. A related problem is that there is practically no discussion of the sources themselves, with the introduction being mainly a (very) short summary of Alexander's conquests and last years before you get thrown into the fray and made part of the turmoil. There is an obvious advantage to this: the pace is fast and the narrative is that much more lively. But there are also some BIG setbacks. A discussion of the sources would have shown that:
- there is much that we do not know because most of the direct sources (with the exception of a few fragments here and there) have been lost
- the sources we have were written several centuries after the events, although they extensively used the primary sources (from eye witnesses). We have, of course, the same kind of issue with Alkexander's reign but it is even worse here because it is so much more important to understand and interpret the events that we are told about and, of course, when you have up to four major contenders, you can have up to four different versions as to what really happened and why it happened. This whole dimension and all of the associated discussions that historians have been having for decades are completely absent from this book.

This may be largely because of space constraints but it also reveals a deliberate choice made by the authors: to present a coherent and unbroken narrative without revealing to what extent this is based on assumptions.

A second problem is that, to some extent at least, the book does not entirely live up to its promises. It is supposed to be about commanders and campaigns, says the subtitle. In fact, it is about the political and military history of the Hellenistic world and mostly up to 301. There is a lot of the various Wars but much, much less about the various commanders. I was expecting much more here and, in particular, some comparisons about their generalship and command style. Apart from some scattered remarks, some of which are in the conclusion and refer to Pyrrhos (who, by the way, was NOT on of the Alexander's Successors, since he belonged to the next generation, just like Demetrios).

A third problem, still related to the sources and to the author's choices is that the book itself is VERY unbalanced. The first 166 pages cover the first half of the period down to Ipsos, but there is only 52 pages devoted to the next 20 years. The authors blame this on the sources. This is only partly true and it is to some extent a bit disingenious. They could have perfectly well covered the ways the various Successor kingdoms were organized by their founders, especially those of ther Seleucids and the Lagids, but also the Kingdoms of Lysimmachus and the homeland - Macedon. This would still have been within their subject since these kingdoms were, at least initially, essentially geared towards war. So something aboiut the respective richnesses, tax systems and foundations of cities which were first and foremost military colonies could have been verw useful and is missing.

As a result, you get quite a good narrative, but that's about it... A pity, it could have been much better
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work., 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
The death of Alexander the Great left his empire without a leader. Over the next twenty years his generals, the Diadochi (successors) fought each other, first in an attempt to seize the entire empire and then to carve out their own kingdoms. This period is certainly not lacking in interest. Its relative obscurity owes much to its position between two more immediately attractive periods - the conquests of Alexander and the rise of Rome. It doesn't help that the Diadochi's own successors did so badly against the Romans, or that the most famous of their dynasties is best known for inbreeding and incompetence.

This is unfair to the Diadochi. The commanders of the battles examined here nearly all began the period with impressive reputations won under Alexander (Eumenes and Demetrious being the main exceptions). They led armies that were similar to the one Alexander led to glory, and often demonstrated a great deal of ability as commanders in their own right.

This book focuses on the armies and battles that decided the shape of the ancient world in the aftermath of the disruption caused by Alexander's death. Although the book covered the period to 281 BC the detailed battle accounts end at Ipsus in 301 BC, the last battle between the Diadochi to be recorded in any detail and the battle that ended the last chance that Alexander's empire might be re-united.

The book starts with a look at the armies themselves, examining how they changed over time as most of the Diadochi were cut off from Macedonia. We then look at the Lamian War, the last serious Greek attempt to throw off Macedonian rule. Two chapters are devoted to Eumenes' War, which ended with the defeat of the Loyalists, supports of Alexander's sons. The battles of Gaza and Ipsus, two defeats for the Antigonids, each get a chapter to themselves. The final three chapters each cover a different theme - sieges, naval warfare and the constant border warfare that slowly hemmed in the Diadochi.

This is a useful piece of work that demonstrates that the Diadochi were rather more skilful than they are normally portrayed. Recommended.
The perfect companion to this fine work is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A timely, informative and very interesting read!, 3 Aug 2008
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
As someone with a general interest in ancient history I had just finished reading Peter Green's book - The Hellenistic Age - when I stumbled on this title which helped shed more light on Mr. Green's book.

This book goes into detail on the military activities and political machinations of the likes of Perdicass,Eumenes,Antipater,Antigonus Monopthalmus, Seleucus and Ptolemy following the death of Alexander the Great.

Furthermore, it tells us how Alexander's immediate family - Olympias, Roxanne, Alexander IV were embroiled in the schemes of these generals.
We witness the military development of Demetrius (Son of Antigonus)and Pyrrhus before he suffers defeat at the hands of Rome.

My only criticism is that the book contains just one map which is why I have given it four stars. The hellenistic era is certainly full of interesting characters and I look forward to reading Volume 2!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Successors, 2 Sep 2009
This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
I have read little about the Successors of Alexander and hoped to glean some information from this book. It is fairly well written and gives a reasonable oversight to the period but they are not historians and this, unfortunately, shows. If you want an accurate depiction of Alexander's Generals in the Succession wars read Bosworth - expensive but worth it. The authors enthusiasm is undeniable, especially for Craterus - they may even have a fan club going for the man - but this doesn't compensate for bad research.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable, 26 Feb 2009
This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
A cracker of a book, and like those reviews above I await volume 2 with relish. Anyone know what the second volume comprises as its subject matter? I agree with most comments above and so will not repeat them, suffice it to say I have 2 criticisms, which is why this book has 4 and not 5 stars.
The first is commonplace, in that more maps of the campaigns and shifting boundaries are needed. The other is that a list of dramatis personae should be provided, since there are so many characters involved, and therefore many have similar names.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Observer's Book of Diadochi, 31 Jan 2009
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
This is a very useful and highly readable reconstruction of the power struggle following the death of Alexander. The authors give us what they think happened without burdening themselves with a long discussion of alternative interpretations and textual lacunae. This has the advantage of rocking along at a good pace but the disadvantage of possibly annoying those who are aware of other possibilities. If you are interested in ancient miltary history then I think you will enjoy this book; the successor generals were certainly never boring.

More maps would help make the text easier to follow.

I look forward to Volume 2.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wars of Alexander's Successors 321-281 BC, 25 April 2009
By 
P. Carson (Chertsey, Surrey, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
The first single volume narrative of the conflict between Alexander's Successors that I have seen. A very readable yet detailed account of all the personalities involved in a momentous period of history. It puts a lot of information previously garnished here and there into one book and for that alone it is very worth buying. More maps would have been useful but does not detract to much.
I await volume 2 eagerly. (I have already pre-ordered)!
Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in this comparatively neglected period.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and informative, 20 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Wars of Alexander's Successors 323 - 281 BC: Commanders and Campaigns v. 1 (Hardcover)
A good book. I was thoroughly transfixed by what happened after Alexander died. His generals basically carved up his empire and fought a series of wars between each other. Their levels of brutality were appalling. Greed and fear ruled the world. By wasting their resources in internal conflicts, the Greek world weakened its grip on the world eventually and allowed the rise of the Romans. Just a pity that the book doesnt tell us what happened after the death of Selecleus. Maybe that will be volume 2?
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