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Dividing the Spoils (Ancient Warfare and Civilization) Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199647003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199647002
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

He provides us with a brilliant work of history and humanity, facts within cautionary tales. (John Shosky, The European Legacy)

Review from previous edition Robin Waterfield has produced an excellent introduction...He conveys the drama of the aftermath of Alexander's death with the intensity of a novelist. (Military Times)

A briskly readable march through tumultuous events which continue to reverberate. (Daily Express)

Robin Waterfield's coruscating cultural-political narrative does full and equal justice to all the major dimensions of this extraordinary half-century. (Paul Cartledge, author of Ancient Greece, A History in Eleven Cities)

A gripping and often unsettling account of a formative period of ancient history. As Robin Waterfield points out, it deserves to be far better known than it is ― and now, thanks to the author himself, it is as accessible as it has ever been. (Tom Holland, author of Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West)

About the Author

Robin Waterfield was formerly a university lecturer at the universities of Newcastle and St Andrews, before becoming a commissioning editor at Penguin Books. A freelance writer and translator since the early 1980s, he has published numerous translations of the Greek classics for both the Oxford World's Classics and Penguin Classics. He now lives in the far south of Greece on a small olive farm.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a long established fact that history is written by the winners (ignoring Thucydides), the problem for the Hellenistic history specialist is that the period of the successors (323BC-280BC), produced an absolutely stellar cast of losers - Perdicas, Craterus, Eumenes of Kardia, Cassander, Polypherchon to name but a few. The primary sources seem to mirror the period providing a difficult challenge of creating a unified narrative in which the challengers to Alexander's throne get equal treatment to the big three that succeed (The Antigonids, Seleucids and Ptolemies). Modern works too, have shied away from the successors preferring to focus their efforts on the kingdoms that emerge once the dust has settled on the numerous wars of the successors. It is against this background that Robin Waterfield steps in, it is a difficult task to write a history that embraces 40 years of near constant warfare, back stabbing and treachery, but to his credit Waterfield has produced one of the most readable and accessible accounts of modern times.
The book is simply but effectively structured, Waterfield follows a broad chronological structure, with clear chapter breaks and effective use of sub headers to make reading easier. A pitfall of narrative history is that it can be boring and hard to engage with, however the quality of Waterfield's prose is such that the work is highly lucid and events follow a logical sequence avoiding the dangers of weaker narrative history. Alongside this chronological structure are good sections of text that deal with more thematic subjects ranging from Hellenistic kingship and ruler cult to philosophy.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a good and a well-structured general introduction and summary to the "Wars of the Successors" (with a plural, not a singular, contrary to the book's subtitle). It is a narrative history with a broadly chronological structure that tells the story of the 40 plus years that followed the death of Alexander. The maps are great. The illustrations also and the bibliography clearly shows that the author knows his subject and his done his research work well. The book reads well and the prose is engaging. So, why not five stars? There are two main reasons for that and, for both of them, the author is only partly to "blame"

The first is that the general thrust of the book, being that all the Successors aimed to re-conquer and rule the whole of Alexander's Empire, is hardly an original view. It is very nicely presented, starting with the very engaging title ("Dividing the Spoils" meaning implicitly something like "I want it all for me"), but, in my view, an in-depth discussion of this view, which is somewhat taken for granted, is missing. For instance, arguing that Ptolemy did not expand beyond Egypt largely because he lacked the means to do so is a statement that can apply to each and every of the Successors at some point in their career: Cassander and Lysimachus, who had, at least until 301, their hands full with Greece and Thrace, respectively, or Seleukos, who, between 311 and 301, was busy securing the "Eastern Satrapies". Not having the means to expand (meaning a strong base, a full treasury and a large army and navy) does not necessarily imply that you would expand otherwise. Note for instance that Pyrrhos of Epiros mostly did not have the means to expand but nevertheless DID try to expand - and kept his whole life trying.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As with Xenophon's Retreat, Robin Waterfield writes well and with great economy. Any discursions are necessary to the text and speculation is kept to a minimum where evidentiary support is not available.

The book deals with the aftermath of Alexander's death and the "successors" wars to inherit his Empire. Ptolomy more or less played a safe hand, but each of the others saw themselves as worthy of exercising Imperial power - even in extreme old age taking to the battlefield to expand their territory. I knew that ultimately power was shared by three of Alexander's generals, but a lot of blood was shed and money (the equivalent to billions in modern day values) spent getting there.

All in all a satisfying read for those who wish to know what came after Alexander's death. The book also has a time line at the back, cast of characters and genealogies.

I also love Waterfield's turn of phrase. Writing of the Antiginoid heir Demetrius's betrayal of a duality of Macedonian boy kings he writes: "Minnows should not swim with sharks", which drives home the utter ruthlessness of those who wished to gain, not a part, but all of Alexander's spear won land - and believed they had the right to do so.

Most definitely not a brat pack historian, of which there seems to be an abundance at the present time.
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By PT on 14 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book covering the years followed after the death of Alexander, a period not many have an idea about. And a period of some great ambitious men that should be in par of Alexander.

It doesn't include detailed battles, but does include the overall impact the process had in the geo-political and social environments across the whole of the Empire.

Great work and easy read.
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