Friday, April 8, 2022

Review of The Perdiccas Years, 323–320 BC: Alexander's Successors at War by Tristan Hughes

This book review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires
Watch Short Review



Battles for power started immediately after Alexander the Great’s death.  Internal strife started small and was managed.  But incidents kept escalating the problems until further battles, and then war for succession.  A Macedonian civil war.  Even during the battles, the soldiers had remorse in attacking other Macedonian troops and leaders.  For they had been fighting with them during previous battles.  This is a story of what happened after Alexander the Great died in Babylon.  

Alexander the Great might have built the empire, but it was the successors that determined its fate.  Legend has that shortly before death, Alexander the Great replied that succession should go to the strongest.  The problem was that there were many who had proven themselves.  But before death, Alexander the Great provided a symbolic gesture of whom should lead in the interim.  To manage state affairs until an appropriate successor was found.  Alexander the Great’s gave the signet ring to Perdiccas.  

Among those most proven and highest-ranking individuals of Alexander the Great’s empire were seven bodyguards.  Those who had proven themselves countless times on the battlefield.  But it was not just the bodyguard who laid claim to the throne, as there was Alexander the Great’s unborn child, another illegitimate child, and close relatives.  Whoever would claim the throne, would require a regency or a shift in power.  Even alternative methods of rule were considered, such as a committee to rule the empire rather than a monarchy.

The monarchy needed legitimacy, making the kingship a death warrant to those without.  Legitimacy required the support of nobility, soldiers, and external allies.  Without them, conflict would arise.  Perdiccas was very skillful in becoming the regent and gaining de facto control.  Turned to solidifying power and pursuing ambition.

Many of the cities and states conquered by or allied with Alexander the Great, had a very tenuous relation with Macedonia.  As Alexander the Great’s armies moved further away, the cities did not have much oversight from Macedonian and behaved independently.  But trying to maintain good relations with Alexander the Great, and the successors.  After the death of Alexander the Great, it was very hard for them to accept Macedonian rule.  More and more were becoming anti-Macedonian, and wanted full independence.  


Unless you are interested in the history of warfare, there will be times of poor writing flow.  There is a lot of background information that had caused forthcoming events, but it can still be hard to understand many of the decisions and events.  The decisions taken appear to be very calculating, without much cultural influence.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•Who was Alexander the Great?
•Who was Perdiccas?
•What is the importance of the Alexander the Great’s bodyguard?
•Who had claim to Alexander the Great’s throne?
•Why was there no clear successor?
•Why did the friction escalate to a civil war?
•How did the Macedonian people, cities, and states react to the death of Alexander the Great?

Book Details
This book was provided by NetGalley
Edition ISBN:  9781526775115
Pages to read:   341
Publication:     2022
1st Edition:      2022
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4