Was Alexander the Great murdered in Babylon?
In a historical mystery which combines Dan Brown's narrative panache (but with far superior writing skills), Agatha Christie's sense of drama and mis-en-scene, and Paul Johnson's synoptic view, Graham Phillips makes a convincing case that, indeed, he was.
"Alexander the Great: Murder in Babylon" (Virgin Books, 2004) is as thorough as any scholarly study, footnotes and all and, yet, it is compulsively and breathtakingly readable.
The book opens with the events of the fateful banquet in 323 BC: 32-year old conqueror of the known world, Alexander III, fell ill with the most unusual symptoms and then died.
For some reason, his hideous expiry has been attributed to malaria, typhoid, or alcohol poisoning. But Phillips demonstrates irrefutably that the King was assassinated, his drinks laced with fatal herbs.
Having considered the means, Phillips then proceeds to review the motives and opportunity each of the suspects had. And what a list it makes!
By the end of his ego-driven life, Alexander had converted his entire entourage into a gaggle of bitter, vengeful, scheming courtiers and spurned wives.
Phillips shines the proverbial spotlight on each suspect in turn, analyzing his or her relationship with the young potent; the promise and the inevitable disappointment/disillusionment. Love turned to virulent, seething, pernicious hatred; or to cold, calculated and merciless self-interest.
Antipater; the long-suffering soldier who feared that he is about to be executed by an increasingly more paranoid Alexander.
Arridaeus; the King's older brother, intermittently mentally incompetent, but sufficiently coherent to envy and resent his younger sibling.
Barsine; the gorgeous captive-turned-wife, jilted for a younger woman, saddled with Alexander's first child.
Seleucus; the able officer whose meteoric rise via the military ranks may have tempted him to seize even more power.
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