Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire by Robin Waterfield
This is the story of one of the great forgotten wars of history, a war which led to the disintegration of Alexander the Great's vast empire. Alexander built up his empire in little more than a decade, stretching from Greece in the West, via Egypt, Syria, Babylonia, and Persia through to the Indian sub-continent in the East. After his death in 323 BC, it took forty years of world-changing warfare for his heirs to finish carving up these huge conquests. These years were filled with high adventure, intrigue, passion, assassinations, dynastic marriages, treachery, shifting alliances, and mass slaughter on battlefield after battlefield. And while the men fought on the field, the women, such as Alexander's mother Olympias, schemed from their palaces and pavilions.
Robin Waterfield's fast-paced narrative revives the memory of Alexander's Successors, whose fame has been dimmed only because they stand in his enormous shadow. In fact, Alexander left things in a mess at the time of his death, with no guaranteed succession, no administration in place suitable for such a large realm, and huge untamed areas both bordering and within his "empire." It was the Successorsbattle-tested companions of Alexander like Ptolemy, Perdiccas, Cassander, and Antigonus the One-Eyedwho consolidated the Conqueror's gains. Their competing ambitions, however, meant that consolidation inevitably led to the break-up of the empire.
Astonishingly, this period of brutal, cynical warfare was also characterized by brilliant cultural achievements, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and art. A new world emerged from the dust and haze of battle, and, in addition to chronicling political and military events, Waterfield provides ample discussion of the amazing cultural flowering of the early Hellenistic Age.
The histories of many modern countries in the eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, Near East, and Central Asia, began in the hearts and minds of the Successors of Alexander the Great. As this book demonstrates, their lives and legacies deserve to be better known.