Ghost on the Throne by James Romm
The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire

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Synopsis

Alexander the Great, perhaps the most commanding leader in history, united his empire and his army by the titanic force of his will. His death at the age of thirty-two spelled the end of that unity.

The story of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire is known to many readers, but the dramatic and consequential saga of the empire’s collapse remains virtually untold. It is a tale of loss that begins with the greatest loss of all, the death of the Macedonian king who had held the empire together.

With his demise, it was as if the sun had disappeared from the solar system, as if planets and moons began to spin crazily in new directions, crashing into one another with unimaginable force.

Alexander bequeathed his power, legend has it, “to the strongest,” leaving behind a mentally damaged half brother and a posthumously born son as his only heirs. In a strange compromise, both figures—Philip III and Alexander IV—were elevated to the kingship, quickly becoming prizes, pawns, fought over by a half-dozen Macedonian generals. Each successor could confer legitimacy on whichever general controlled him.

At the book’s center is the monarch’s most vigorous defender; Alexander’s former Greek secretary, now transformed into a general himself. He was a man both fascinating and entertaining, a man full of tricks and connivances, like the enthroned ghost of Alexander that gives the book its title, and becomes the determining factor in the precarious fortunes of the royal family.

James Romm, brilliant classicist and storyteller, tells the galvanizing saga of the men who followed Alexander and found themselves incapable of preserving his empire. The result was the undoing of a world, formerly united in a single empire, now ripped apart into a nightmare of warring nation-states struggling for domination, the template of our own times.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About James Romm

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James Romm is James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He has written two books on the ancient Greek world, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought and Herodotus, and edited Arrian's Campaigns of Alexander, part of the distinguished Landmark series of works by ancient Greek historians.
 
Published October 11, 2011 by Vintage. 369 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The murders of Olympias, Cleopatra, Philip and Adea, as well as Alexander’s Bactrian widow and their son, put an end to Macedonia’s Argead dynasty and signaled the arrival of “a multipolar world marked by rivalry, shifting alliances, and long-running small-scale conflicts—in many ways, a world li...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this fast-paced and absorbing account, Bard College classics professor Romm chronicles the political intrigues and military conflicts of the half-dozen generals who struggled for power after Alexander the Great's death in 323 B.C.E.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

BC Books

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His death solved nothing of the central problem, for the reality was that the ghost of Alexander still reigned and no one could vanquish this specter and make the demigod’s creation his own realm.

Dec 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

BC Books

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Years before Alexander's death, Meleager bitterly criticized Alexander during a feast in India during which Alexander bestowed one thousand talents of silver on Ambhi, the local raja with whom Alexander made alliance.

Dec 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

BC Books

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Alexander the Great's life ended abruptly, leaving in his wake a power vacuum that his generals and other high-ranked rivals tried to fill during a long struggle for power.

Dec 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

The Wall Street Journal

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Roxane, Alexander's Bactrian wife, aided by one of his generals, had done away with the two Persian wives that Alexander had acquired at Susa;

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The Wall Street Journal

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Roxane, Alexander's Bactrian wife, aided by one of his generals, had done away with the two Persian wives that Alexander had acquired at Susa;

Nov 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

Open Letters Monthly

The simplicity is elemental: the story is Alexander – not the claims of a brotherhood of mankind, not the litany of conquered armies and nations, and not even the brutal gallantry of that superb Macedonian army marching its way across the known world – not any of those things but rather Alexander...

Feb 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

City Book Review

In this work, noted historian James Romm takes us through the chaos, the fighting, and the many brutal acts of betrayal after the death of Alexander.

Jan 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

Seattle PI

Years before Alexander's death, Meleager bitterly criticized Alexander during a feast in India during which Alexander bestowed one thousand talents of silver on Ambhi, the local raja with whom Alexander made alliance.

Dec 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

Portland Book Review

According to legend, Alexander left the succession of his empire “to the strongest”, ensuring that Alexander’s military commanders, or “bodyguards”, would use their individual power and influences to lay claim to both the empire and to the crown — two very separate entities.

Feb 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Ghost on the Throne: The Deat...

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