Dividing the Spoils (Ancient Warfare and Civilization) Paperback – 2 Aug 2012
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nothing can make the plethora of names or the following of alliances that are broken just as soon as they are formed over such an unfamiliar landscape easy on several front... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Mr. J. A. Nisbet
This book is an excellent overview of the time of the Diadochi. It collates many of the key sources, such as Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, and Justin. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Elysee
At last a book where I'm not getting lost amidst the many successors and everlasting wars!
When Alexander died in 323 BC there was no heir to the throne and he had not... Read more
‘Dividing The Spoils ‘ (2011) by Robin Waterfield is probably the best account I know of the Diadokhoi ( the usual term used for the Successors carving up the empire of Alexander... Read morePublished 19 months ago by BobH
A well written account of the first successors and the foundation of the Hellenistic kingdoms that would survive until the coming of Rome. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2013 by R martin
Robin Waterfield's book on the Successors offers an exceptionally clear, coherent and exciting account of a period I've always found it hard to make sense of. Read morePublished on 8 May 2013 by Mr N Collins
Brillant, a great understanding of what happened when Alexander died and how his shortlived Empire crumbled as his generals fought each other in a murderous contest to size what... Read morePublished on 25 April 2013 by Ross
This is a well-written and readable book on the wars of the Successors. Although it doesn’t go into the details of the battles, for which there are several recent volumes, it does... Read morePublished on 13 Mar. 2013 by Squirr-El
It is interesting to see how the rivals needed a strong leader to hold them together however after Alexander this almost but never happened.Published on 15 Jan. 2013 by murdoch smillie