Dividing the Spoils – Robin Waterfield

This is a pretty interesting book on the period just after the death of Alexander the Great, when his successors fought it out to see who, if anyone, could claim the his entire empire.

This is a period of history that I’m not all that familiar with, and this short but comprehensive treatment was rewarding if a bit confusing with the large number of players involved.  There are a dozen or so generals, two or three puppet-king heirs, a few conniving women powers behind the throne, and even a guest shot by Alexander the Great’s corpse, which gets stolen by one of the claimants on the way to Macedon to be buried.  It was an interesting time

I was a bit distracted with illness as I read this so a second reading might help with the cast of thousands.

An interesting take that the author has is how Alexander’s personal influence seemed to keep those that knew him tied to the dream of unification of the entire empire through war with the other successors.  When the next generation came to power, the contest was pretty much at once settled by dividing the land up between them.  But nobody who knew Alex was satisfied with half a loaf, even though many lost it all by reaching for the entire thing and ended up with nothing.