Alexander the Great Failure: The Collapse of the Macedonian Empire

Alexander the Great Failure: The Collapse of the Macedonian Empire

Hardback Hambledon Continuum

By (author) John D. Grainger

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  • Publisher: Hambledon Continuum
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 234mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 February 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1847251889
  • ISBN 13: 9781847251886
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, maps
  • Sales rank: 976,829

Product description

Alexander the Great's empire stretched across three continents and his achievements changed the nature of the ancient world. But for all his military prowess and success as a conqueror, John Grainger argues that he was one of history's great failures. Alexander's arrogance was largely responsible for his own premature death; and he was personally culpable for the failure of his imperial enterprise. For Alexander was king of a society where the king was absolutely central to the well-being of society as a whole. When the king failed, the Macedonian kingdom imploded, something which had happened every generation for two centuries before him, and happened again when he died. For the good of his people, Alexander needed an adult successor, and both refused to provide one, and killed off any man who could be seen as one. The consequence was fifty years of warfare after his death and the destruction of his empire.The work of Philip II, Alexander's father, in extending and developing the kingdom of the Macedonians was the foundation for Alexander's career of conquest. Philip's murder in 336 BC brought Alexander to the kingship in the first undisputed royal succession on record. Alexander's campaigns achieved unparalleled success.

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Author information

Dr John D Grainger is a respected historian with a particular reputation for military subjects. His recent publications include Cromwell Against the Scots and The Battle of Yorktown.

Review quote

The author's puzzling thesis is stated in his book's title: Grainger believes that Alexander the Great was a failure...Grainger's failure to be persuasive in his thesis is compounded by careless book production: misprints, confused chronology, incomprehensible maps, and an inconsistent rendering of foreign personal and place-names into English. Better books about Alexander are available. Summing Up: Not recommended. - E. N. Borza, CHOICE, January 2009--Sanford Lakoff

Editorial reviews

A low-key, authoritative look at the factors that ushered Alexander the Great to power, then brought his empire crashing down.The kingdom of Macedon had existed since the seventh century BCE, writes military historian Grainger (Cromwell Against the Scots, 2005, etc.) in his swift, certain summary. Claiming its mythic descent from a relative of Heracles, speaking a Greek dialect and surrounded by other important Greek city-states such as Chalkidike and Thessaly, Macedon was overshadowed by the mighty Persian Empire. The Macedonian king "was the leading member of a fairly widespread aristocracy which ruled over a submissive peasantry." Grainger tracks the long series of succession crises that ended with the ascent in 359 BCE of educated, opportunistic Philip II, who quickly killed off all rivals and instituted a series of innovations that would render Macedon powerful and rich. He instilled new discipline among cavalrymen, introduced the sarissa, a longer infantry spear, and deployed cunning, effective diplomacy. Philip's murder in 336 brought to the throne his 20-year-old son, Alexander, who immediately embarked on a nine-year campaign to subjugate his neighbors and the Persian Empire. The administration of his conquests was left to ineffectual satraps, and with the death of their charismatic leader in 323, in the absence of a designated heir, the army fell in disarray. Power was seized by Perdikkas, then Antipater, then Antigonos, who declared himself the legitimate successor of Alexander after the decisive battle of Salamis in 306. He was followed by a disastrous series of kings and the invasion of the Galatians in 279 BCE. Macedonian unity was never again achieved, Grainger asserts, because, "Alexander's ambition was too great for his people."Written from the point of view of those subjugated by the Macedonian empire over two centuries, this book offers a unique and significant take on well-worn history. (Kirkus Reviews)