Book Review: Dividing the Spoils, by Robin Waterfield

By HistoryNet Staff
9/9/2011 • Military History Book Reviews

Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire, by Robin Waterfield, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, $27.95

Volumes have been—and will be—written about the conquests and exploits of Alexander the Great. Upon his death at age 32, he left an empire stretching from Europe to India. But what happened next? According to author Robin Waterfield, what occurred after Alexander’s death was one of the great yet virtually forgotten periods of war in ancient history.

In this enlightening new volume Waterfield chronicles the wars fought among Alexander’s successors, each of whom tried to gain for himself the vast empire Alexander once ruled. The author recounts in great detail how men like Ptolemy, Seleucus, Perdiccas, Lysimachus and a seeming host of others attempted to become the new Alexander.

Punctuating the account of the successors and their wars, the author relates the significant achievements in the cultural life of the people. Far from distracting from the main theme of the book, these sections foster the reader’s appreciation of the many developments in art, philosophy and literature that took place despite the near-constant state of war.

Those unfamiliar with this period of history may find Waterfield’s roster of names throughout the book daunting. However, to the author’s credit, he has included a cast of characters to familiarize readers with key historical figures.

Dividing the Spoils is a well-researched book that offers a wealth of information about the period between Alexander the Great and the coming Roman Empire.

—Willard Stringham

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