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Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire by [Romm, James]
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Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Length: 369 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"The Rise of Athens" by Anthony Everitt
An account of how a tiny city-state in ancient Greece became history’s most influential civilization. Learn more | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Romm charts all the reversals and alliances with the skill of a great detective.” —Los Angeles Times

“Thrilling. . . . But Ghost on the Throne is [also] a careful work of fine scholarship.” —The New Criterion

“Offering well-paced and often-dramatic narratives, up-to-date research, and thorough documentation. . . . [Romm] lends a vividness and passion to his narrative.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Romm is a gifted storyteller as well as a respected scholar.” —Choice

“[Romm has] mastered the knack that all classicists should have: He can get inside the sources and bring them alive. . . . This is history every reader should know, and this is exactly how it should be written.” —Open Letters Monthly
 
“Romm’s saga of the tumultuous years immediately following Alexander’s relatively sudden death . . . becomes something of a thriller: [Who] will survive until the next chapter in this roller coaster of an imperial succession story?” —History Book Club
 
“Romm . . . is one of a few historians worldwide who can be numbered among the Alexander experts.” —Westfair Online
 
“Written more as a thriller than a history tome.” —The Daily Freeman
 
“Fast-paced and absorbing . . . Captivating  . . . A sterling account of a little discussed era in ancient history.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Lively. . . . [A] scholarly but colorful account of the toxic fallout from the untimely demise of a continent-striding conqueror. . . . Romm paints a vivid portrait of ancient politics.” —Kirkus Reviews

From the Back Cover

"What became of Alexander's stunning accomplishments and his vision of  a vast, unified empire? Ghost on the Throne illuminates the dark  mysteries and personal motivations that swirled in the turbulent,  little-studied era ushered in by Alexander's untimely death in  Babylon. In Romm's gripping, detailed account, we watch the tragic  drama unfold, as the young leader's closest companions become vicious  rivals, shredding Alexander's grand dream amid blood and paranoia."
--Adrienne Mayor, National Book Award nominee and author of The Poison King: The Life of Mithradates, Rome's Worst Enemy

Product Details

  • File Size: 2505 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 11, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KPM1BW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,430 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Very rarely does a work of popular history come along that combines the readability and excitement of popular history with the careful, accurate scholarship of a critical history. James Romm's Ghost on the Throne is one of the best of those select few.

Ghost on the Throne begins in the last weeks of Alexander's life and follows his would-be successors through several years of bloody in-fighting. Most histories of this period begin and end with Alexander, leaving the chaotic decades following his death either summarized or completely unexplored. It's easy to see why--Alexander was an arresting personality who centered over a decade of politics and conquest on the single focal point of himself, while the generals who fell to squabbling for preeminence after his death were a hodgepodge of individuals of varying quality, and the ever more complex politicking among them makes for a potentially confusing narrative.

At Alexander's death he had no clear heir. He had an illegitimate son, a Bactrian wife in her final trimester of pregnancy, and a clique of high-ranking generals of firm loyalty to himself but riven with strife among each other. He gave one general his signet ring, a clear mark of favored authority, but at his death the rivalries and suspicions among the generals and their distrust of the foreign elements in Alexander's army--the Persian and Indian soldiers and generals, Alexander's Bactrian wife--not to mention decommissioned veterans eager to return home after over a decade at war and rogue local commanders, fell apart without Alexander's powerful center at the top. The empire fractured, fragmented, and finally collapsed into chaos.
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Format: Paperback
Ghost on the Throne by James Romm is a study of the power struggle that broke out immediately after the death of Alexander the Great. I say study, but this studious and well-researched book is also highly entertaining. The remarkable Alexander left a legacy debated to the present (was he an enlightened ruler spreading Hellenic culture, a convert to the despotism of the Persians whom he conquered, or some mixture of both?). As he lay dying, he was asked who should rule and said, "To the best," or, perhaps even more presciently, "To the strongest."
The seven years that followed that death saw a struggle involving his closest generals, royalty of various degrees of relationship (including his famed mother Olympia and his sister Cleopatra), and efforts by the Athenians to free themselves from Macedonian domination. The players are fascinating and well-drawn. The shifting alliances are easily followed. Strange fates, such as the defeated general Eumenes being offered enormous power by both sides, lend fascination to this account of men and women seeking to rule an empire.
The author, James Romm, is professor of classics at Bard College and shows his thorough knowledge of the period and sources (many of which are either missing or unreliable). I particularly liked a caveat in the preface about statements regarding the "private lives and inner thoughts of historical figures." Romm says, " . . . I have tried to assure readers that they were not simply made up, or at least not by me." I appreciated both his candor and his modesty.
The structure of Ghost on the Throne is dramatic and there is a wonderful film lurking in the personalities and marvelously rendered conflicts that erupt among the dramatis personae and find inevitable resolution with the resolute advances of phalanxes of sarissa-wielding infantry and the lighting thrusts of cavalry.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A highly readable, vivid and lively account. Thus, a highly enjoyable book to read. Just when the names and places start to become baffling, even perplexing, as the many faceted shifting alliance, changing loyalties and cynical betrayals run their course, Professor Romm provides handy recaps of the action and of which player is on which side at any given moment as the political and military situation could change from moment to moment.

Professor Room provides us with a view from the inside as well as the outside of these tumultuous and unprecedented times and events as well as the larger than life egos that were setting the course for the future development of that which we are pleased to call western civilization.
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Format: Hardcover
This book reads like a political thriller! The characters come to life against a backdrop of mystery, murder and mayhem. I could not put it down. When I picked it up, I thought it might be too scholarly. But what a fabulous surprise. It is not only accessible to people who don't know the field, but it picks you up and carries you to another time and place.
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Format: Hardcover
James Romm really puts the reader into the psychological minds of these ancient figures as to their motivations and machinations. Their personalities were as colorful as if he had plumbed the depths of his imagination to create characters in a novel.

I didn't realize that to the ancients Alexander the Great was NOT Greek and Greeks within his ranks and of that era were looked down upon by the ruling Macedonians. I'm confused how modern Greeks can so vociferously claim Alexander as their own. I would have greatly appreciated a remark from Romm on this paradox, but he only had a minor one-sentence footnote that was not enlightening.

Romm gives the reader clear visions of so many thrilling events: the first female to female combat in history (Olympias vs. Adea), the teen-age princess Adea standing up to hardened generals, Xerxes' infantry crossing the Hellespont on 300 warships laid side by side (I put my bike on a ferry to cross the Hellespont when I cycled Izmir to Thessaloniki, 1000 km), Polyperchon's elephants charging Megalopolis in the Peloponnese, the tent in which Eumenes set up a sort of phantom Alexander which put a spell on the warriors, the aerie refuge Eumenes held out eating bread and salt until the tide turned, Perdiccas' fatal inability to solve the conundrum of crossing the Nile, the leader of the Silver Shields thrown in a pit and burned alive and Ptolemy's soldiers capturing the body of Alexander from under Perdiccas' nose ("picked his pocket" as Romm mischievously described it). These and other images just riveted my attention.
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