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Quick Lit Bits: 'Ghost on the Throne'

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The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire

By James Romm

According to the book:

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


According to Kevin:

This is an intriguing look at the years immediately after Alexander the Great's death and how the empire he amassed fell apart so quickly thereafter. One of the primary reasons was Alexander the Great's attempt to merge the Macedonian culture with Asian culture and, thus, unite his entire kingdom. He married 200 of his generals to Asian wives in a massive ceremony...complete with 200 private condos for the post-wedding festivities (hey-oh!). After he died, there was a tremendous backlash to what was perceived as, for lack of better phrase, race mixing. Many within Macedonian thought their culture was superior to the "Asian hordes" – who, one can only assume, felt the same way about their Macedonian counterparts.

The author, James Romm, is a classicist at heart but knows how to tell the story in a compelling way. While all the names and locations can be confusing, he does a great job of occasionally stepping back and summarizing the events and intrigues that went on throughout the empire which reached all the way to India at its summit. The end result was the disintegration of a united, single empire into many warring nation-states battling for supremacy, and serves as a template for our times.



About the Author
A Juilliard-trained writer, Kevin Kizer has fought against numerous world-champion writers during his career, besting the reigning middle weight writing champion in an exhibition bout in Helsinki in 1976. He also played a crucial role on the U.S. gold-medal winning writing team during the 1984 Pan-Am games, where he came off the bench in dramatic fashion to write the winning prepositional phrase just as time expired.