Ghost on the Throne

Ghost on the Throne
James Romm

Alexander the Great was one of those rare, ultra-charismatic rulers whose empire, much like Atilla’s, began to dissolve immediately upon his death. He bequeathed that empire “to the strongest,” a testament that left the question of legitimacy up for grabs and so resulted in a political mess that took some thirty years to straighten out. It’s an incredibly complex period to understand, and the sources aren’t the greatest, but James Romm does a terrific job sorting out what (we think) we know and getting it into a coherent shape. There’s a glance at the end toward how a multipolar world riven by small conflicts is much like our own, but this isn’t very persuasive. Alexander’s story has little contemporary application. Not only was Alexander a special case, the sort of world he inhabited, one where an individual could have such an impact on history, is gone. Today his party would have a full transition plan in place.

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