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May 07 , 2010

Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire


This is the story of one of the great forgotten wars of history - which led to the division of one of the biggest empires the world has ever seen. Alexander the Great built up his huge 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 vast 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 schemed from their palaces and pavilions. Dividing the Spoils 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 an enormous realm, and huge untamed areas both bordering and within his 'empire'. The Successors 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 developments, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and art. As well as an account of the military action, this is also the story of an amazing cultural flowering. In some senses, a new world emerged from the dust and haze of battle - the world of Hellenistic Greece. A surprising amount of the history of many countries, from Greece to Afghanistan, began in the hearts and minds of the Successors of Alexander the Great. As this book demonstrates, their stories deserve to be better known.
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