The story of Alexander the Great’s conquest of the known world has been told countless times, but the subsequent war for his empire after his death is less well known. Ghost on the Throne (Knopf) by James Romm, editor of the Landmark Classics series, is a lively and readable account of the years immediately following Alexander’s death in Babylon in 323 BC.
Romm follows several well known and other less known characters from all sides of the conflict. We follow Aristotle, the Greek who threw in his lot with the Macedonians and now has to pay the price. Alexander’s generals Perdiccas and Ptolemy strive for supremacy while at the same time Alexander’s son by a barbarian princess tries to survive in a harsh world of politics and poisoning.
We also meet Eumenes of Cardia; a Greek who followed Alexander on his journey from Europe to India and rose from the ranks to become one of his highest and most trusted commanders. This man becomes perhaps the most important figure in the post-Alexander world as he at first tries to hold the empire together while at the same time running for his life. He constantly outsmarts his Macedonian overlords and wins battle after battle, and eventually is brought low by treachery.
The break-up of Alexander’s empire by his former generals is an amazing story and begs to be read. Romm brings ancient history to life as we see the hijacking of Alexander’s corpse on his way home to Macedonia; we follow the Hellenic War in Greece with Demosthenes, and follow Antigonus One-Eye, Cassander, and Antipater in elephant charges, epic battles and massacres as Alexander’s empire is taken apart piece by piece.
— Greg, BookHampton Sag Harbor