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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 January 2012
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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on 6 August 2008
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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on 22 February 2015
Everyone knows about Alexander the Great and the empire he created. What many don't know about though is what happened after his tragic early death. This book takes us through the years after Alexander's death, as his generals and governors, known as the Diadochi (successors) scrambled to at first control the Royal line, and then carve out kingdoms of their own. A 40 year period of war, alliances, betrayals and murder followed, till at last things settled down and each kingdom realised that Alexander's Empire could never be recreated.

This book takes us chronologically through the year's but looks at the various players looking at them as personally as possible, which unfortunately is a difficult task to do, due to the great dearth of information about this time. We also look at their campaign's in a broad overview, not going into too much detail (that would be for book 2). It is an engaging work, as the authors try to bring to life one of the most exciting periods in ancient history, and for the most part they do a good job. As mentioned by a previous revier, this book does suffer from a chronic lack of maps. it becomes very hard to visulise what is happening without having a map to help guide you. While the book is on the short side at only 220 pages, which is a tad disappointing, it is understandable as there are very little information about these men, who were overshadowed by Alexander and never really escaped his shadow.
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on 2 November 2013
I love Roman history and I only became interested with Alexander's empire when after playing Rome Total War I "discovered" the Seleucids. I loved this book, the reading seemed to me quite easy to follow (and english is my 2nd language). The way it is structured is quite good as well. This is a book for anyone with interest with this period oh history / or that likes ancient history. It is a very good book, starting with the situation of Alexander's empire during his India's campaign and ending with the death of the last diadochi (Seleucos) . However, by the end of the book some names start being confusing (there are a lot of demetrius) and is difficult to remember who is who at the end of it. A family/faction tree could have been useful. Furthermore, for some people (not me) the geography of the era will be complicated. The map provided doesn't gives enough detail of Alexander's empire regions, provinces, cities… But these are mentioned with frequency during the book. I do know most ancient regions of the middle east (thanks to TW and Europa Universalis games as well as my knowledge of the roman empire) but this could easily not apply to you. But if you google Persian empire, images, there are good maps you can find.
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on 19 October 2008
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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on 30 May 2016
This is the best book I have read about Alexander the great successors it was well-written and researched and it contains a lot of information about the wars that carved up the empire he left on his early death congratulations a fantastic book it would interest any body who likes Hellenic history
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on 3 August 2008
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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on 12 January 2018
Excellent. A must-have for lovers of ancient history
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on 2 October 2017
great book
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VINE VOICEon 31 January 2009
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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