• Ghost on the Throne

  • The Death of Alexander the Great and the Bloody Fight for His Empire
  • By: James S. Romm
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (139 ratings)

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Ghost on the Throne  By  cover art

Ghost on the Throne

By: James S. Romm
Narrated by: Michael Page
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Publisher's Summary

When Alexander the Great died at the age of 32, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea in the west all the way to modern-day India in the east. In an unusual compromise, his two heirs - a mentally damaged half brother, Philip III, and an infant son, Alexander IV, born after his death - were jointly granted the kingship. But six of Alexander's Macedonian generals, spurred by their own thirst for power and the legend that Alexander bequeathed his rule "to the strongest," fought to gain supremacy. Perhaps their most fascinating and conniving adversary was Alexander's former Greek secretary, Eumenes, now a general himself, who would be the determining factor in the precarious fortunes of the royal family. 

James Romm, professor of classics at Bard College, brings to life the cutthroat competition and the struggle for control of the Greek world's greatest empire.

©2011 James Romm (P)2020 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Ghost on the Throne

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

ends a bit short

doesn't go all the way to the end of the wars of the diadochi but contains detailed account of the history to the end of the argeads

4 people found this helpful

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great read for everyone

I have enjoyed the style of the author,  it reads as highly intriguing thriller. And though I already knew pretty much about Hellenistic world, Mr. Romm kept me interested throughout whole book, providing many details of which I was not aware.

It is a worthy read both for specialists (the author made a great work at revisiting all relevant sources) and new readers (those who know nothing of this subject).


There are only few problems:


Minor one. The book effectively ends  in 314 BC with little information regarding later wars between hellenistic kingdoms (which in incredibly interesting topic).  That's not a major problem, I just wished that book's name specified that.

Major one. The whole story is based on very few ancient sources whose credibility is highly questionable. In my opinion author should have been more of a revisionist and put more time and effort in critical analysis and (re)interpretation of these sources, instead of simply retelling them (though doing it in great way). Yes, that would be speculation, but good speculation is far better than taking up some clearly non-sensible twists in the works of ancient authors for real. Example of an interesting way of  critical review of the old sources would be Greg Woolf's "Rome: An Empire's story".


But still, this book is a great and enlightening read.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dry and Disjointed

I'm a fan of ancient history and was sucked in by the overwhelmingly positive reviews but found the work to be choppy and the reader's delivery to be dry. This is more a list of events - often told in non-linear order - than a compelling work of popular history. Any sort of mounting tension or rising action that might have been achieved is undermined by the author's penchant for jumping from location to location and character to character in a manner that comes across as more than a little chaotic. He's done the research and assembled the information but has not figured out how to present it in a compelling manner.

1 person found this helpful

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Not My Favorite, But Not Terrible

I think this book really works best when read instead of being heard. The switches between storylines would have made sense if each chapter started with a map with numbered dots on it showing where each faction was. Breaking each chapter, which was only noted by a number i.e. 4 instead of Chapter 4, into smaller also numbered groups was a bit confusing to listen to.


I also found myself incredibly annoyed with some of the word pronunciations by the narrator. Perdicas which was pronounced per-dih-cuss in the last book I listened too was this time pronounced per-DEEK-ass. I couldn't tell you which pronunciation is correct, but I found the change so frustrating, I was rooting for the character to hurry up and die so I wouldn't have to hear his name anymore. Other words got some strange treatment as well. For instance hegemony, which I've only heard pronounced hedge-E-moan-E was pronounced as He-jiminy (think Jiminy crickets). Again, that may be an accepted pronunciation, but I found it odd.


Finally, the further we got into the story, the less I felt like the author was disclosing when sources contradicted, and was just going with whichever theory fit the story he was telling. I know there are a lot of holes in the records of that time, but I prefer for those things to be disclosed, rather than have a theory presented as the truth. Other books I've read make it clear that much of the story surrounding Olympas is unverifiable, and that the Greeks wrote scathingly about her because they despised a woman trying to take a prominent role. At no point is that mentioned in this book and every act that has been attributed to her is presented as historically, verifiably done by her.


All in all, not terrible, but I won't be searching out more books by the author of the narrator.

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Great information

Story has a lot of great information. Complete and well studied timeline of the years immediately following Alexander's death. The narrator's speed makes it hard to follow him most of the time. He reads fast.

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  • Tim H.
  • 09-18-21

Better than Game of Thrones.

Wonderfully written history of a magnificent true story of the human desire for power. Great narration. Found myself desperately rooting for Eumenes, the ultimate underdog who simply never knew when to quit.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 03-08-20

Clear and pleasant,but slightly bland, reading of interesting book.

The story and writing seem good. Michael Pages reading is clear and pleasant, but somewhat bland. The announcement of the end of a war is announced as mildly as a discussion about the weather.
As a result, it becomes an unchanging recital, which detracts from its overall quality a little
That said his reading is decent, and unlikely to irritate the listener.

1 person found this helpful