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Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography
by Peter Green
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 September, 1992)
list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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Editorial Review

There's no shortage of biographies available on Alexander the Great, but PeterGreen's Alexander of Macedon is one of the finest. The prose is crisp and clear, andwithin a few pages readers become absorbed in the world that made Alexander, and then the story of how Alexander remadeit. Green writes, "Alexander's true genius was as a field-commander: perhaps, takenall in all, the most incomparable general the world has ever seen. His gift for speed, improvisation,variety of strategy; his cool-headedness in a crisis; his ability to extract himself from the most impossible situations; his mastery of terrain; his psychological ability to penetrate the enemy's intentions--all these qualities place him at the very head of the Great Captains of history." ... Read more

Reviews (65)

4-0 out of 5 stars Alexander, old school
This is a very detailed book about Alexander, the events immediately before his birth in Macedonia and his epic rise to immortality. Peter Green is no doubt a very keen observer of history and paints a very detailed picture of the different moral and social values that were present during Alexander's time.

Be warned though, this book was originally written in the early 70's and the style of writing is more textbook/academic than the current vogue of historical biography Ala, Robin Lane Fox: Alexander the Great and Tom Holland: Rubicon. Some serious students of Alexander may feel that some of the ideas presented have moved on somewhat as well.

Two areas that would have greatly assisted this undertaking are:

More maps and diagrams would have been helpful to get a better grasp of scale. What little maps there were focused almost entirely on the movements of Alexander and didn't really trace out movements of his various Generals etc.

A character folio at the back giving a brief overview of all characters presented in the book would have been infinitely helpful. Periodic appearances by minor characters throughout the narrative as well as the proliferation of similar names caused some confusion at times.

All in all a very enjoyable book but not undertaken lightly. I would recommend this to readers who already have a basic knowledge of Alexander, his life otherwise the sheer volume of detailed info may overwhelm.

3-0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but somewhat long and droning.
First off, I am not an Alexander expert.This is the first bio of Alexander that I've read.Second, it's obvious that the author has done a lot of research on Alexander and knows his topic.I have to say, however, that while parts of the story are gripping, a lot of it is long and boring.It comes down to this---once Alexander leaves home to essentially conquer the world, the book is 90% devoted to the military maneuvers.You get very little flavor for what clothes and foods were used.You get very little cultural information that doesn't relate to the military or how Alexander offended or rallied his troops.I'm not a big military buff...I like to get to know the PERSON in the biography and feel as if I know him.The tales of executions and rivalries are my favorite bits...but most of this is Alexander moving from locale to locale.Also, if you're not an expert on the ancient world, the author can quickly lose you with a lot of references to ancient cities or areas that unfamiliar to people living in the modern world.The maps focus tightly on areas so you can't get a sense of how everything fits together.The author's prose is exciting enough...but the endless military stuff bores me.If you want to know what it might be like to meet with and speak with Alexander, this book won't help you understand who he was...only what he did.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Various Facets of Greatness
If anyone in the history of the world ever deserved to be titled "The Great" it would be Alexander III of Macedon.Born in 356 B.C. to Phillip II and Olympias, Alexander would forever make his name great by leaving Greece to conquer Persia: the largest known empire in antiquity stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean to India. Peter Green's comprehensive biography covers the political and cultural backgrounds surrounding the events of Alexander's life to give the reader a clear picture of the complexeties of his character, the sources of his genius, and the significance of his achievements.

Peter Green is one of the most respected scholars of classical studies who received his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge where he eventually worked as Director of Classics.Peter Green is presently a tenured professor at the University of Texas, Austin.Not only is this book saturated with important factual information about Alexander and his time, its prose is easy to read with a good level of wit and humor.The book thoroughly explains the political and cultural context in which Macedonia came to power and its impact on the Greek city states.The book is also accompanied with maps detailing Alexander's travels and major battles.

This is an important work that covers in detail the various facets of Alexander's life: not a simple task for a man who accomplished so much in only 13 years of time; a man who, during that time, had covered almost 40,000 miles of mostly inhospitable territory on horse or on foot with an army varying from 60,000 to over 100,000 men.The book shows that Alexander was not simply a brilliant general who never lost a battle even under overwhelming odds: he was a brilliant politician, an explorer, and a philosopher.Alexander's voyages were not just conquests but explorations into a world that few Greeks knew of.His army was always accompanied by scientists, cartographers, philosophers, etc.: it was a royal court in motion.

This is a great book and Peter Green has done an outstanding job.I strongly recommend this biography over others for its comprehensiveness and smooth prose which makes reading it enjoyable for readers of almost any age: it's a great buy.

... Read more

Isbn: 0520071662
Subjects:  1. 356-323 B.C    2. Alexander,    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Generals    7. Greece    8. Historical - General    9. History    10. the Great,   


by Serge Lancel, Antonia Nevill
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 2000)
list price: $32.95 -- our price: $21.75
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Editorial Review

Few military leaders are remembered in history for their mistakes rather than their successes. One of the famous exceptions is George Custer, whose tactical blunder at Little Big Horn is a notable setback in America's westward expansion. Another, more ancient example is the Carthaginian leader Hannibal, who twice had it in his power to conquer the Roman empire and twice failed to act quickly enough to do so.

He would forever rue his error, writes the sympathetic French historian Serge Lancel in this thoroughly researched biography; like Napoleon, Hannibal spent his last days in island exile (in his case, on Crete), lamenting his missteps and longing for another chance to rule the world. Even so, writes Lancel, Hannibal had many accomplishments of which to be proud, notably his difficult passage of the Alps with a huge army of men, horses, and elephants, and his defeat of the Roman armies at the Battle of Cannae in 216 B.C., a defeat that cost the Romans some 70,000 men. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Details Without Exaggeration
I found this book a very concise and scholarly work on the life and battles of the great general Hannibal. Though no new ground is covered in this treatise, it is very well written and translated and would be an excellent read before embarking on a report or essay on the battle of Rome.

Understandable and enlightening, this book covers the life of the general as well as most other books currently in print though not as well as some that are difficult to find today. Without question factual, this book was meticulously researched and verified. Still, since we have little evidence from a historical standpoint other than what has alrady been offered, there is nothing new to glean from the pages of this book.

One of the best attibutes of this book is the lack of embellishment or dramatic affectation of the battles Hannibal fought. The facts are credible and thoroughly investigated.

Because of the interesting pitch and composition of the writing, this would be an ideal book for teachers to require students from high school onwards to read. It is compelling enough to hold their interest and edcuational enough to impart some knowledge of the antiquities.

4-0 out of 5 stars comprehensive, intelligent and readable book
The trouble with all books about Hannibal is that they all tend to read rather much the same, which simply reflects the fact that virtually all ourinformation of him derives from only two written sources (Polybius, who wassemi-contemporaneous, and Livy), so biographically it's kinda difficult forany author of a Hannibal book to get any new angle or info on him. Thanks to the Romans' thorough destruction job on old Carthage, there isminimal archeological or other primary documentary evidence to add to ourknowledge of him, so unless someday something turns up somewhere else(bearing in mind he actually spent more of his life away fromCarthage)...

What therefore helps to make this book stand out fromothers, is that the author is a respected academic and authority on thesubject (he has excavated Carthage - see his other book) who clearly knowshis stuff.

His comments and discussion are balanced and intelligent,and being a fairly recent book is able to take account of modern views andresearch.What is also good is that he avoids sacrificing the book'sreadability with being overly detailed on every aspect, but yet caters forthose looking for more detail in places with specific literature referencesin his narrative.In my judgment the information contained is verythorough and sufficiently detailed, for most readers, without beingoverwhelming.

I should think this book is probably as good as any otherbook on Hannibal currently in print (if not one of the better ones).

However, in my opinion the best book is the now out-of-print"Hannibal: The Struggle for Power in the Mediterranean" by GavinDe Beer, which is comprehensive, highly readable and (best of all) islavishly illustrated with color plates and photographs on nearly everypage; - something which alas is lacking in most other books including thisone, which only contains twelve simple diagrams/maps, not counting thefront cover picture.

In summary, though,this is a scholarly yet veryreadable account of Hannibal which pretty much tells you all there is wehave available to know about this awesome guy.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Decent Biography of a Great Military Commander
This was an interesting account of Hannibal provided by this French author, who is a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Grenoble. He utilises most contempary and some modern accounts of Hannibal and hiscampaigns and also offers his views on those accounts to assist the readerin judging the accuracy of the text.

At times I found the narrative tobecome a bit muddled and somewhat dry but overall he offers a decentbiography of this Great Commander. I would have appreciated a more in-depthaccount of his battles but the author does provide details of every facetof Hannibals campaigns including the political background at the time.

For those looking for a more detailed military history of Hannibal andhis role in the Punic Wars I would recommend Nigel Bagnall's 'The PunicWars'. For a view from "the other side" I would recommend 'ScipioAfricanus, Greater than Napoleon' by Liddell Hart.

However if you justwant a decent account of Hannibal and an over-view of his role in thesecond Punic War than this book should fit the bill. ... Read more

Isbn: 0631218483
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ancient - Rome    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Military - General   


The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War
by Donald Kagan
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 1989)
list price: $22.95 -- our price: $22.95
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unqualified Endorsement
If you have any interest in ancient history, do yourself a favor and read all four volumes of Kagan's four volume treatise on the Peloponessian War.This is history at its finest.His writing style gracefully combines detailed historical analysis with his own ideas on what the historical record leaves for our speculation.All of this in what reads like a narrative history.Having a copy of Thucydides handy will only add to the experience.Kagan's one volume version is good, but reading the four volume series takes it to a level that any serious fan of ancient history will enjoy.Definitely worth the investment of time and money.

5-0 out of 5 stars for serious readers only
This book, and the other three in the series, are for serious readers only.But presumably you know that, if you're reading this.You'll need to read Thucydides first, at least once;it wouldn't hurt to read Xenophon's Hellenica as well, not to mention all the extant plays of Aristophanes.Oh, and maybe a history or two on the Greco-Persian Wars.

If you can do/have done all that, then these four volumes are a rare treat.I think Kagan is very clever.He writes sober, judicious history, but he does it in a very amiable, companionable way.You get the sense that one of your favorite professors from your college days has dropped by to tell you a little story, one of those "little stories" that expands and expands until you lose track of time and place, drawn into his web.I think Kagan wrote these books that way deliberately, with an eye toward a wider audience than the usual scholarly tome.Perhaps that engenders some snickering or sneering among the academic types.Let them sneer.These books are nothing if not highly readable.

How does Kagan stack up as a scholar?I don't know.He certainly provides an exhaustive overview of the scholarship written up to the time these volumes were written, and he's always very clear to describe where he stands in contrast to other scholars.How those scholars view him, and what scholarship has concluded since the publication of these books, remain unknown to me.I'm a serious reader, but not *that* serious.My days of digging through scholarly journals and publications to find anything and everything on a given topic are long behind me.

It hardly matters, though.These books are of the highest value strictly for their sheer entertainment value.If they are also of the highest schloraly caliber, then so much the better.But to tell you the truth, I wouldn't care if Kagan was a baldfaced liar.I would enjoy the books all the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mutually Assured Destruction (for the Ancients)
Athens and Sparta's relations peaked during the Persian wars; thereafter, as their respective trading empires filled the vacuum left by Persia's retreat, these two city-states became involved in a bipolar power struggle, of a kind which (as Kagan relates) has since repeated itself numerous times in history.Kagan has a truly inspired ability to draw factually apposite parallels between different periods, and in this account, as rival nations spiral towards a cataclysmic conflict, one can't help thinking of pre-WW1 Europe and/or the post-WW2 Cold War.If the Sparta-Athens relationship was truly bipolar, however, peace might have prevailed: the real trigger, or at least catalyst, to war was the provocation of the intermeddling third party, Corinth.Kagan not only relates the Thucydidian chronology, he also interposes his own corrections and clarifications and, in the process, brings this tragic war to life for the modern reader. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801495563
Sales Rank: 225902
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient Greece - History    3. History    4. History - Military / War    5. History: World    6. Military - General   


The Archidamian War
by Donald Kagan
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 1990)
list price: $22.95 -- our price: $22.95
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Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars very in depth, but...
there are a lot of typos in this book, such as grammar and spelling (and this is ignoring kagan's (often) refusal of setting off clauses with comas, which is very annoying and at times makes reading more difficult than it should be). considering that it is a reprint, one would expect the typos to be corrected.

so, it is given four stars on this account, which has as much do to the editors (or maybe more) than with kagan himself.his work is very elucidating and his arguments seem to me to be compelling (although i am far from well read in criticism on thucydides, in fact, this is my first).

highly recommended, but one should have a background on the war and greek history before beginning and at least some familiarity with thucydides and some of aristophanes' work.

5-0 out of 5 stars War and Peace, 5th Century B.C.
This is perhaps the most important of Kagan's four books, because it contains the central plank of his thesis.Even though the Archidamian War closed with a tactical victory for the Athenians, as Kagan shows, the war (the opening conflict in the thirty year Pelopponesian wars) left the city-state economically crushed and strategically vulnerable.In this respect, the thesis in this book reminds me of Tolstoy's thesis in War and Peace concerning the Battle of Borodino.Tolstoy had argued that the outcome of this conflict (a nominal win for Napoleon) was in fact a strategic catastrophe for the French.Similarly, Pericles, for all his brilliance, fixed upon a strategy throughout this war which bled Athens white and left it utterly unprepared for another long-term struggle.A powerful history indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Great History
I agree with Mr. Lafianza's review except for his criticism. At first the analysis may be annoying, but one should quickly see its benefits. By looking at several different explanations and pointing out their failings, Kagan reiterates his main themes, strengthens his own point, underlines the importance of certain events, and makes understanding these events clearer for the layman by slowly moving through the events and never going so fast that a given situation does not make sense.

The book is wonderful and if the subject interests you, there is none better. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801497140
Sales Rank: 181480
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient Greece - History    3. Greece    4. History    5. History - Military / War    6. History: American    7. Military - General    8. Peloponnesian War, 431-404 B.C   


The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (Peloponnesian War Series)
by Donald Kagan
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 June, 1991)
list price: $22.95
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Alciabades' "Bright Shining Lie"
The first of Kagan's epics had a "Guns of August" feel; the second, with its deconstruction of the false "victory' of the Archidamian War, felt Tolstoyan; the parallel for the Sicilian Expedition, however, is painful and obvious: this was Athens' Vietnam.The mighty commercial power decided to cement its influence in a far flung land across the sea; what resulted was a massive haemorraging of blood and treasure, and complete defeat at the hands of small provincial armies.Among the characters we meet is the incomparable Alciabades, the Athenian general who advocates the expedition, only to be arrested, and escape, just as things begin to turn sour.Another terrific retelling of the great disaster.The battle narrative around Syracuse has a definite Dien Bien Phu feel. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801499402
Sales Rank: 235851
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. History - Military / War    3. History: World    4. Military - General   

The Fall of the Athenian Empire
by Donald Kagan
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 October, 1991)
list price: $22.95 -- our price: $22.95
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Tragic View of History
No single book quite caputres the tragic decline of Athens with such dispassionate scholarly understanding and what appears to be such passion for the subject and deep concern for the characters involved. This is scholarship at its penultimate stage and would make Arnaldo Momigliano proud. Donald Kagan is arguably the most exceptional poltical historian America has prodcued in the last fifty years. I have been reading his work since I was in my teens, have anotated my copies of his trilogy on the Peloponesian War and am always amazed that when I come back to this book, it is as fresh and delightful to read as the first time I opened it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Coup De Grace
Athens had already been bled white by the Archidamian war; it had lost its fleet and the flower of its youth in the Sicilian expedition.Here, Sparta rejoins the conflict as a full-blooded belligerent, and Persia weighs in as a sponsor.For all that, Athens still puts up a hell of a fight, scratching together a new fleet and defending its Aegean and Black Sea possessions with vitality and imagination.Yet, like Napoleon's armies after the Russian winter, a brilliant victory only defers the outcome, whereas it will only take one serious defeat for the whole war effort to collapse.At length, this defeat arrives when the Spartans get serious about naval tactics and recall Lysander to administer the decisive blow.Another great character in this saga, the Athenian exile Alcabiades, reappears, first as a Spartan advisor, then as a friend to the Persian King, then back to Athens as the prodigal son.Not until Talleyrand will one encounter such a serial turncoat. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801499844
Sales Rank: 222893
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient Greece - History    3. Athens (Greece)    4. Greece    5. History    6. History - Military / War    7. History: World    8. Military - General    9. Peloponnesian War, 431-404 B.C   


Xenophon and the Art of Command
by Godfrey Hutchinson
Hardcover (01 October, 2000)
list price: $34.95 -- our price: $23.07
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Isbn: 1853674176
Sales Rank: 742770
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Biography    3. Biography / Autobiography    4. Generals    5. Greece    6. Historians    7. Historical - General    8. History    9. History: World    10. Military    11. Military - General    12. Military History - Ancient    13. Military art and science    14. Military leadership    15. Xenophon   


The First Punic War: A Military History
by J. F. Lazenby
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 April, 1996)
list price: $24.95
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rome's First Great War
Polybius begins his history of Rome's rise to domination of the Mediterranean with the First Punic War (264-241 B.C.), and he was no doubt right about its significance.For the first time, Roman forces ventured outside of Italy, fought at sea and invaded another continent.By war's end, the City had added Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica to its sphere of influence and could no longer be ignored by other Mediterranean states.It had also acquired a relentless enemy in defeated Carthage and, especially, the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca.For two decades after peace was declared, the Barcids devoted their energies to building a new Punic dominion in Spain to support their dreams of revenge, dreams that were almost fulfilled by Hamilcar's son, Hannibal.

One would like to, but cannot, trace so important a conflict in at least moderate detail.Polybius, our fullest source, merely summarizes events as a prelude to the Second Punic War, and his narrative is a blend of two lost authors of uncertain reliability, without the eyewitness evidence that undergirds the main portion of his work.To fill the gaps in Polybius, all that survive are fragments, epitomes and the summaries of late compilers like the 5th Century Orosius and 12th Century Zonaras.

The patchiness of the sources is frustratingly apparent in the last period of the war.In 249 Rome lost virtually its entire fleet to a battle and a storm, just at the moment when Carthage'shandful of remaining strongholds in Sicily seemed on the verge of collapse.At that point fog descends.We are told that Hamilcar Barca conducted a brilliant guerilla campaign for the next eight years.Polybius calls him the best general on either side, and the Carthaginians awarded him their most important post-war commands.But what he did to earn that reputation is a mystery.Equally mysterious is the apparent passivity of both combatants.Carthage devoted its military energies to subduing its African neighbors, making little effort to regain its Mediterranean position, while Rome waited seven years to construct another navy.What was going on, and why?We will never know.

Incidents are not all that the record lacks.The institutional background is hazy; both cities changed between the first and second wars, but we do not know how or how much.The statesmen and generals are little more than names.Motives and strategies are largely guesswork.

At the most basic level, it is hardly possible to form a clear notion of how battles were fought.Professor Lazenby remarks that "we do not even know exactly what a quinquereme was".He is too optimistic.We do not even know _approximately_ what a quinquereme was, except that it was the principal warship on both sides and had a name derived from five somethings having to do with oars.Obscure in a different way is the "crow", a Roman invention that combined boarding bridge and grappling hook.Polybius credits this "wonder weapon" with negating Carthaginian superiority in seamanship, enabling the inexperienced Roman navy to sweep all of its early battles.Yet the device looks easy to counter; strong men with poles should have been able to fend it off while their vessel backed oars and slipped out of reach.Moreover, the Romans, after supposedly using the crow successfully for 15 years, abruptly gave it up, and no one ever employed it again.

For undertaking what many would call an impossible feat of reconstruction, Professor Lazenby deserves kudos.He assembles a lucid outline by sifting and comparing the ancient sources, laying out his reasoning in meticulous but rarely exhausting detail.His operating assumption is that virtually all of the recorded facts go back to something that really occurred rather than just to imagination.There are some limits to this principle.He rejects out of hand the romantic story of the consul Regulus' self-sacrifice.But he defends Polybius' enormous figures for the numbers of ships and men engaged at the Battle of Ecnomus (256 B.C.) and lost in the storm off Camarina (255 B.C.).Many readers will probably be more skeptical, but at least they are given a fair accounting of the data.

The product of this effort is not vivid and exciting, but that is not the author's fault.Only fiction could hope to bring the dry bones to life.What can be faulted is the absence of good maps of the theater of war.Roads, topography and ethnic allegiances of Sicilian towns would all be welcome, though they may have fallen victim to budget constraints.

The reader does not need to bring to this book any specialized background knowledge, but the specialist should not find it superficial.More could probably not be said in twice the pages.As the only modern English history of the First Punic War, it will be appreciated by those interested in either ancient military affairs or the development of the Roman Republic. ... Read more

Isbn: 0804726744
Sales Rank: 295007
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ancient - Rome    3. History    4. History - Military / War    5. History: World    6. Military - General    7. Punic War, 1st, 264-241 B.C   

Hannibal's War: A Military History of the Second Punic War
by J.F. Lazenby, J. F. Lazenby
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 1998)
list price: $16.22 -- our price: $11.03
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book for intermediate and advanced students
Professor Lazenby's book is the modern standard on the subject of Hannibal's campaings during the Second Punic War. I highly recommed it with a few provisions.

First, you have to know more than a little about the Second Punic War and its participants to get the most out of this book. The author often refers to events and battles with the assumption that the reader knows what happened and what were the consequences. Prof. Lazenby goes into the appropriate detail into the key events - such as Hannibal's crossing of the Alps or the battle of Cannae - but he does not expound upon other participants or less critical events and their consequences. One such example is M. Claudius Marcellus. If I hadn't read Plutarch's Life of Marcellus, I would have thought he was just some ordinary Roman general, which he wasn't.

Second, the book reads well despite its lack of narrative. Much of the book tries to sort out between the two ancient sources, Polybius and Livy. Page after page follows the same format - Polybius said this, Livy said that, I (the author) think that so and so was right, etc. As I've said, the book still reads well despite its strong emphasis on research over narrative.

Finally, you need a set of good maps - or another book with excellent maps - to follow the action. Books such as "Hannibal's War" have not benefitted from modern publishing. Instead of clean and clear maps that might be in a book published in 1998, the publisher decided to in essence photocopy the original, grainy, crowded, eyesore maps from 1978 and stuck them in the back of the book. Overall, they're not much help. And in especially complex parts such as the Battle of Ilipa (map included in the back), you end up doing your own cross referencing to figure out exactly what happened.

In the end, this is a great book to augment your knowledge of the Second Punic War. I highly recommend it - I even enjoyed it, but I happen to enjoy dry, detailed books on Roman history.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Turning Point for the Roman Republic
J. F. Lazenby, an English professor of Ancient History, has written the definitive academic interpretation of the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage from 218 to 202 BC.The bulk of Lazenby's work is a synthesis of the two main ancient sources: the Greek Polybius who wrote about 50 years after the war and the Roman historian Livy who wrote his account about 200 years after the war.Several other ancient sources are also used, but the bulk of this history is an interpretation of Polybius and Livy by Lazenby.

While Hannibal is clearly the main focus, Lazenby admits that the brilliant Carthaginian general can only be analyzed in terms of his actions not his character, due to the paucity of primary sources.Lazenby clearly admires Hannibal and the reader is soon caught up in his admiration as well, following Hannibal's bold crossing of the Alps and stunning victories in Italy.However Lazenby believes that Hannibal's greatest achievement was his survival in Italy for nearly fifteen years, virtually cut off from Carthage.Scipio Africanus' rise is also well-documented, his bold campaign in Spain particularly stands out, but Lazenby places him second in skill to Hannibal.This is akin to placing Wellington behind Napoleon in generalship, despite Waterloo.Lazenby touches on the issue of whether or not Hannibal's entire strategy in Italy was flawed but then drops it without conclusion.For myself, I think Hannibal was a tactical genius but he was overly rigid in strategic outlook since he seemed unable to grasp that his strategy of winning over Rome's Italian allies was not producing decisive results.That he sat around in Italy for fifteen years doing little while the Romans overran Spain and Sicily seems to me that he failed to realize that Roman strategy had bypassed him.Unable to defeat Hannibal directly, Roman strategy simply became to defeat the Carthaginians wherever Hannibal was not.

Although the spotlight is on Hannibal, Lazenby views the Second Punic War as crucial to the evolution of the Roman Republic into a true empire.Prior to the war, Roman armies had rarely ventured outside Italy.By the end of the war in 202 BC, Roman armies had occupied parts of Spain, France, Albania, Greece and North Africa.The Roman army also grew immensely in size and experience, fielding over 250,000 troops by the end of the war.The war gave Rome both the incentive and the tools to establish a dominant hegemony over the Western Mediterranean littoral.

There are several interesting themes that Lazenby hammers home throughout the book.One is that Rome's victory was due to its superior ability to mobilize manpower.Although the Romans suffered numerous costly defeats at the hands of Hannibal, they always seemed to raise more legions to hem him into a corner in the boot of Italy.Carthage on the other hand, relied on professional mercenaries and had difficulty replacing large losses.This ties into a second related theme, which is that while Carthage might have had a well-led professional army, it did not have much of an empire or faithful allies.When Roman armies invaded Spain or North Africa, Carthage's allies melted away or deserted her.Finally, a third theme is the instrumental nature of Roman seapower in the final victory.Although there were no large naval battles, the Roman dominance of the sea was never seriously challenged by the Carthaginian fleet.Sea control gave strategic flexibility to Scipio but denied it to Hannibal.

Lazenby's account is the best synthesis available on the ancient sources.It has decent sketch maps that support the text well and there are modern photos of some of the battlefields.The only flaw is a tendency to digress on arcane disputes between Livy and Polybius when their respective accounts differ, which is distracting and should have been placed in endnotes.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Well Written History of the 2nd Punic War
This book is full of wisdom and insight regarding the war between Rome and Carthage, part 2.The author looks at the primary sources critically and attempts to draw out the probable scenarios of the major points of the war. Personally I thought he did a great job regarding that.He has many mapsat the end of the book so you can find out where the major action ishappening without any problems.Although I wouldn't recommend it for acomplete novice (i.e. someone who doesn't know a thing about ancient Rome)I think it is an excellent introduction to the finer points of the SecondPunic War for anyone else. ... Read more

Isbn: 0806130040
Sales Rank: 370223
Subjects:  1. 247-182 B.C    2. Ancient - Rome    3. Ancient Rome - History    4. Hannibal,    5. History    6. History - Military / War    7. Military    8. Military - General    9. Military - Other    10. Military History - Ancient    11. Punic War, 2nd, 218-201 B.C    12. Hannibal   


A History of Sparta, 950-192 B.C.
by William George Grieve Forrest
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 1969)
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Reviews (7)

3-0 out of 5 stars a mild defense of a useful book
I feel I ought to give a qualified endorsement of this work, given the tenor of some of the other reviews that have been posted.If your readings in general works on ancient Hellas or ancient Athens have prompted curiosity about the Spartans, this bookis a fairly satisfying follow-up.A knowledge of the outline of Spartan history helps, since the narrative of this slim work is so compressed.
The most intriguing aspect of the book is where Forrest departs from the chronological narrative to write at greater length on two of the more vexing questions of Spartan history: 1) the true scope of the Lycurgan (or "Lykurgan," in Forrest's annoyingly pedantic spelling) constitution and 2) the number of Spartiates at various points in Spartan history.Forrest exhibits a healthy skepticism for the ancient sources (none of which, except for some fragments of poetry, can be said to have been written by the Spartans themselves), although he perhaps goes too far in attempting to deflate the myths surrounding the Spartans, which, whether true or not, exercised such a profound influence on ancient writers on republican government.

3-0 out of 5 stars If you only read one book on ancient Sparta...
Make it something else.This book is far too dry for the casual reader to enjoy.I read it with a few others, namely Ernle Bradfords Thermopylae: Battle for the West and The Greco-Persian Wars by Peter Green and it provided a good source of reference, but not much else.

Also of note by Peter Green is Alexander of Macedon and if your just looking for a "quick fix" I suggest Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.

5-0 out of 5 stars A quick tour of Spartan history
This is a wonderful book for the person who has a passing interest in ancient Sparta, but is unwilling to spend a whole lot of time doing research on the subject.At just over 150 pages, W.G. Forrest offers a readable and informative text that gets you into Lacedamon, out of Lacedamon & on your way in almost no time at all.

What is surprising about this study is that the author does not hold the Spartans in particularly high regard.This is unusual in that normally, as a rule-of-thumb, historians either write extensively on people / social organizations that they are fervently in favor of, or utterly despise.It is evident that Forrest neither loves nor hates the Laconians;he merely writes about them.

Forrest covers the period of expansion, which is when Sparta exerted its hegemony (forcefully) over Messenia. It is little wonder that the Messenians despised the Spartans, but slaves throughout history have generally not been treated well. I am inclined to cringe at the tacit notion that the Spartans were the only culture in all of history that treated its slave workforce egregiously.

Forrest offers a nice summary of the influence of Lycurgus, but does not articulate very many of his revolutionary ideas.Forrest goes on to explain how the political machinery of Sparta worked, utilizing the Gerousia, ephors and 2 monarchs.For a people who craved simplicity, the political system of Sparta was quite cumbersome.Then again, it was likely that way by design, so that nothing would ever get done. At any rate, Forrest also discusses some different interpretations of the epoch of Lycurgus' life and the the dates of his reforms.Much of this, however, will be of only remote interest to the average reader.

The most gripping part of this book, sadly, is about the fall of the civilization. After their decisive defeat at the hands of the Thebans in 371 @ the battle of Leuctria, Sparta sent out a much smaller army to combat their enemy. However, realizing that the situation was hopeless and they were too outnumbered, the army turned around and returned to the homeland.

I have often been fixated on this about-face of a supposedly invincible Spartan army.It was at this juncture in time that group of warriors decided to turn their backs, not only on an empire, but on a way of life.Gone was the doctrine of Leonidas to "stand and fight to the last man, no matter what the circumstances, no matter the number of the enemy."Sparta would never be the same after 371, and it is with haunting detail and clarity that Forrest takes us thru that sad chapter in Greek history.

This book is highly recommended for those who wish to read of the rise and decline of group of brutal warriors who fielded the most fierce armies of the classical age. These were the men who created the boot camp which military forces still use (to varying extents) in the present day. ... Read more

Isbn: 0393004813
Sales Rank: 60665
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. History    3. History - General History    4. Sparta (Extinct city)   


Plutarch on Sparta (Penguin Classics)
by Richard J.A. Talbert
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 November, 1988)
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Use for People Just Wanting to Learn About Sparta
For people who do not have the time to read all of Plutarch just to find out about Holy Sparta. A great book for finding out about the Ideal State. Plutarch, like most Greek thinkers hated the mob rule of Demon-ocracy, had a love-hate relationship with the warrior caste system of Sparta. He admired the Greatness of Sparta, but disliked its so called "oppressive nature", albeit, this is what made Sparta great. Plutarch preferred Spartan "oppression" over the mob rule of that other Greek city-state.
This is a great book for anyone wishing to stop the decline of the West. Sparta is the answer to the night of the living dead government of the United States of Zombies. Wyatt Kaldenberg

4-0 out of 5 stars Read the fine print
It is with a slight reservation that I recommend this book to classical history buffs & fans of the ancient Spartans. Those (like myself) who lick their chops @ the chance to read a book about the Spartans in their prime might be a bit disappointed.

The Lacedaemons were never the same after their defeat at the hands of the Thebans @ Leuctria in 371BC. A good chunk of this book (about 1/3, in fact) is spent on Agis & Cleomenes. These personages were post-Leuctria fellows who tried to resurrect the Lycurgan principles and traditions which the Spartans were so well known for. Both failed, but gave noble efforts to these ends. Basically, they represented the death-knell to the hardcore Laconian way of life.

Now, both figures are certainly important to classical history; that much is not in debate. However, confronting them in a book entitled "On Sparta" by a historian the calibre of Plutarch is a bit anti-climactic. Again, I was so looking forward to reading about this magnificent culture while it was in its prime - cover to cover.

On the upside, the best part of the book deals with Lycurgus. It was he who founded the famous "Spartan way of life" around the 8th century BC. It was he who contrived such innovations as the long hair on Spartan males, the Lacedamonian distaste for $$ and all things artistic (with the exception of music) as well as virtually all luxuries and comforts of life. It is because of Lycurgus that the Laconians who came after shunned all things effeminate and became such a brutal fighting force. It was also he who promoted egalitarian distribution of land - noted as his most significant reform. Here Plutarch furnishes one of the most detailed biographies of this great man that you will find. The chapter on Lycurgus alone is well worth the price of the book.

In the remainder of the treatise, Plutarch displays sundry quotations of Spartan kings, warriors and women [it is ironic that in such a militaristic state that Lacedaemon women had more rights and privileges than any other city state in Greece]. There are many salient quotes that exemplify Spartan ideals quite nicely.

If you're looking for a book on Sparta, you can do much worse than this one. I will continue my search for more books on Sparta during her heyday. In the meantime, I will have to settle for daydreams about Lycurgus.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Spartan sayings (this one by King Agesilaus):

"Courage has no value if justice is not in evidence too; but if everyone were to be just, then no one would need courage." (P. 119)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good introduction to Spartan History
This book contains Plutarch's biographies of Agis, Cleomenes, and Lycurgus.It is not exactly a linear book about Spartan history, like W.G. Forrests, but it contains a great deal of information about the society within the biographies. Like any of Penguin's translations this one is good and faithful to Plutarch's words.The book is great for the newcomer to the study of ancient Greek history, but even an experienced classics student would appreciate it, especially the section on famous Spartan quotes.The lives of the Spartan nobles are interesting and Plutarch's writing is very readable.There are some concerns about the accuracy of the information since Plutarch was writing about these people long after they died.Some scholars even doubt if Lycurgus really existed.Regardless, Plutarch is one of the only available sources of information about Sparta, a civilization that kept few records.I would recomment this book to someone desiring an introduction to Spartan history. A more advanced reader would probably want to buy a complete copy of Plutarch's lives and get the biographies in this volume with those of two other Spartans, Lysander and Agesilaus and many other classical figures.However, the chapter in "Plutarch on Sparta" containing famous quotations alone makes the book a necessity for the serious Laconiphile. ... Read more

Isbn: 0140444637
Sales Rank: 205549
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient Greece - History    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Reference    6. Ancient Greece    7. European history: BCE to c 500 CE    8. Other prose: classical, early & medieval   


The Greco-Persian Wars
by Peter Green
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 August, 1998)
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Editorial Review

Popular classicist Peter Green (author of Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.) offers an engrossing narrative of the wars between the Greeks and the Persians. This is real David-and-Goliath material, with the scrappy, feuding city-states of ancient Greece fending off a much larger aggressor. The conflicts themselves are a kind of struggle for the soul of Western civilization: "On the one side, the towering, autocratic figure of the Great King; on the other, the voluntary and imperfect discipline of proudly independent citizens." The Greeks surprisingly fare better in these encounters, and make themselves legends on the plains of Marathon (192 Greek casualties versus 6,400 Persians), during the heroic last stand at Thermopylae, and elsewhere.

The Greco-Persian Wars is full of wonderful stories featuring bravery, cowardice, and treachery. Unlike so many of his fellow historians, Green understands the importance of a dramatic narrative, sometimes employing novelistic techniques to relate what happened. It's not an overstatement to say that the course of Western history might have taken a strikingly unfamiliar turn if these battles had had different outcomes. Green is a natural storyteller, and The Greco-Persian Wars is a delight to read, even for readers who have no background or special interest in the classical world. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Peter Green Masterpiece
First of all let me say that those who are trying to read this book as a substitute for Herodotus are bound to be disappointed.A detailed reading of and knowledge of Herodotus is presumed.That said, this book sheds much light on some of the questions unanswered by Herodotus and many of the statements by Herodotus that have remained controversial over the centuries.It should also be pointed out that Peter Green apparently is from England originally and uses, on occasion, English slang.I would not say it grates or is irritating, however.
Many have accused Peter Green of being a revisionist historian as if that is some kind of crime.What is most irritating to some of these critics is his defense of democracy evident throughout his writings.Just as a couple of hundred of years ago Americans read the ancient Greeks and Romans for ideas supporting democracy, many present day readers long for more ordered times and read the Greeks and Romans for support.Peter Green has the audacity to point out that free men have the right to do as they please with their freedom including mucking up their lives and country.This is anathema to many and may explain why he decided to live in the United States.
Anyhow, this is a wonderful supplement to Herodotus.It is not boring and you simply cannot go wrong.

4-0 out of 5 stars Superb Analysis of the Greco-Persian Wars
It was mid-August in 490 BC in a place called Marathon. The Athenians had just registered a stunning victory over the invading Persian troops. Athens did it largely by themselves without Spartan help. As they celebrated their victory an Athenian general, Themistocles, may have been the only Athenian to realize the Persians would be back and the next time Athens would need help.

Peter Green does a superb job in assimilating the well-documented wars between Greece and Persia early in the Fifth Century BC. Relying on the ancient writings of Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch and others, Green analyzes every situation during this period. We know not just names, places and dates but how strategy unfolded and a careful analysis that the leaders had to evaluate. War became like a chess game of position, analysis of the strengths and weakness of all positions, and a bit of guile. The stakes were high. Persia had the mightiest empire ever created. Greece wasn't even a nation, but a collection of city-states, often at war with each other. The Persian threat would force Greeks to come together as a nation. Could they do it? Green takes us through the trials and travails of this effort. Many Greek city-states collaborated with the Persians. In fact, the whole of northern and central Greece did. In many cases ousted leaders sought Persian help to get back to power; they may have been at war with other city-states; or they may simply have chosen earth and water to death and destruction.

The Athenians and Spartans would have to overcome their differences to get rid of the Persian menace from Greece. At times they would work together but generally as soon as the immediate threat was over they would go their separate ways again. When the city-states could come together they became a formidable force for the Persians to deal with. They were better armed and superior in close-in battles. The Persians had the superior cavalry and had numerical superiority. Whichever side could exploit its strengths the best would win.

The book isn't without its faults, however. I thought there was a little too much second guessing of Herodotus and there was way too much use of foreign expressions, which became quite annoying. But these criticisms are minor. The book is a superb re-enactment of these classic wars that helped shape Western civilization.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of Western History
Ernle Bradford, in "Thermopylae, the Battle for the West," opined that European history began with the Greco-Persian Wars. Indeed, had Athens and Sparta lost, the Persians' Westward advance might have been stopped only by the Atlantic Ocean.

Victor Davis Hanson has written a number of works (e.g. "The Western Way of War" and "An Autumn of War") which posit that when East meets West, the outcome is a foregone conclusion--the West wins hands down every time. It is quite easy to get caught up in the mystique of Western military supremacy, but this book serves as a bracing antidote to that way of thinking.

The eve of the Greco-Persian Wars found Greece a hodgepodge of bickering and warring city-states, and Persia a monolithic, world-spanning empire capable of fabulous logistical and engineering feats. For example: an ancient "Suez Canal," two pontoon bridges across the two mile breadth of the Hellespont, a supply line which kept an army of over 100,000 provisioned in enemy territory for over a year.

The Greeks on the other hand engaged in near-suicidal bickering and backstabbing, and when the crunch came, two small city-states (Athens and Sparta) fielded woefully inadequate armies and navies to face the Persian juggernaut. The rest, with few exceptions, either temporized or went over to the enemy.

Five great battles decided the fate of the Persians: Marathon, the twin battles of Thermopylae & Artemiseum, Salamis, and Plataea. Thermopylae was a glorious but devastating defeat, Artemiseum a draw, and the other three hairbreadth victories.

Green displays great scholarship but nonetheless makes his narrative a gripping read. He displays none of the stilted, lifeless prose of his predecessor A.R. Burn ("Persia and the Greeks") as he brings to life the epic struggle which gave birth to the West as we know it. Read this book and see how close we all came to speaking Persian ... Read more

Isbn: 0520203135
Subjects:  1. 519-465 or 4 B.C    2. Ancient - Greece    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. King of Persia,    7. Military - Other    8. Military History - Ancient    9. Salamis, Battle of, Greece, 48    10. Salamis, Battle of, Greece, 480 B.C    11. Xerxes   


The Face of Battle
by John Keegan
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 July, 1995)
list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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Reviews (57)

5-0 out of 5 stars You Are There
My generation's war was Viet Nam, which I avoided with a teaching deferment and a high lottery number. As a result, "The Face of Battle" was an eye-opener for me, since it captures the real, not Hollywood, experience of battle for the common soldier who draws a sword, fires a weapon, or attacks an insurmountable position. Those who want to know what Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme were really like should read this book. The lucky survive. Bravo, John Keegan!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
John Keegan has written many books about the conduct and outcome of wars. In this, he focuses on the question: what is it like to be in a battle? Why do studies show that even at the height of a battle, typically no more than one in four soldiers ever fire their gun? And why, on the other hand, do so few soldiers run away?

To answer the questions, he studies three different battles, representing three different types of combat: the hand-to-hand combat of Agincourt, the single-shot guns of Waterloo, and the mechanised destruction of the Somme. He talks about the kind of men who found themselves in each battle and the kind of experiences they had. You learn about the overwhelming noise of Waterloo, about how the raw recruits of Kitchener's army made it necessary to rely on artillery barrages to win the Somme, about the technical miscalculations that made this strategy go desperately wrong.

It's striking and moving, and unlike any other book about battle -- Victor Davis Hanson's recent "Carnage and Culture" does almost as good a job of capturing the experience of battle, but without the same level of compassion. Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great account of 3 British battles
This book provides a great account of Agincourt, Waterloo, and The Somme. The author has a unique talent of presenting these battles through multiple perspectives. He provides a revealing historical context, and experience of the solider, as well as the tactical aspects of the fights. His description of Agincourt is amazing. The other two accounts are more than worth your time. I think this is one of the best military history books I've read, and strongly recommend it for anyone interested in warfare, history in general, or just looking for an engaging read! ... Read more

Isbn: 0140048979
Sales Rank: 20233
Subjects:  1. Battles    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Medieval    6. Military - General    7. Military history    8. Special Interest - Adventure    9. Land forces & warfare    10. Modern period, c 1500 onwards    11. USA    12. War & defence operations    13. World history    14. c 1000 CE to c 1500   


The Mask of Command
by John Keegan
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 January, 1989)
list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.88
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Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Biography, History, and Something of a How To
Its title comes from a theatrical metaphor, Keegan examining what a commander chooses to reveal of himself to his troops, what he conceals, and what he sometimes invents.

But the book is much more than that.Through an examination of the armies, times, and personalties of four commanders -- Alexander the Great, Wellington, Grant, and Hitler (with a brief look at the command style of John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missle Crisis) -- he shows us how command tactics and theatrics have evolved from Alexander's leading by example in the thick of battle, an heroic example, to the decidely unheroic and distant Hitler and Kennedy.

You'd expect, in a book like this, some look at the politics, military structure, and arms surrounding each leader.And that's present as well as a look at the mechanics of battlefield communication.We're also shown how each of the above leaders personifies some leadership style.

As with his _The Face of Battle_, Keegan makes some of his most memorable points through telling details.We hear of how Alexander's leadership was constricted by the dust of battle, the impossibility of directing combat while heroically hacking at the foe himself; we see how Wellington was distanced from the battlefield by cannons, his vision even more clouded by the gray smoke of guns than Alexander's was by dust, and his intuitive estimation of how fast troops could move against enemies who had just discharged a volley; Keegan talks about the importance of clear and concise dispatches in 19th century battles and how Grant and Wellington's command of English served them well off the battleground; we read transcripts of a micromanaging Hitler who had far better recall of various weapons' characteristics than his commanders but a notable deficeit in strategic thinking.

I found it interesting that all the commanders Keegan chose were political leaders, half unifying military and political commands at once, the other half pursuing political careers after their generalships were over.He doesn't explicity say why this is so, but a concluding chapter on "post-heroic" leadership over nuclear forces implicitly argues for a new style of command by our current military-political leaders.

Whether you want a biography of any or all of the commanders studied in this book, a history of how warfare and the process of command changed through millennia, or a look at how a war leader must manipulate his followers with the right mix -- for his society and time -- of love, alienation, fear, and respect, this book is worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Commanding Forth :Son of Face of Battle!
The Face of Battle is a very hard act to follow and I think any reader will understand that as he begins The Mask of Command. This is a study of four leadership styles of famous generals as they evolved through different periods in history.So much has already been written about Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant and Adolf Hitler, it is hard to imagine how succinct and enlightening Keegan's presentation can be.He is a superb writer of military history and in this case, of biography and theory.Keegan always seems to succeed in escaping from the customary and, by now trite, eulogies and strikes out into new territory.If you would like to find out about Alexander the Great's sex life, how the Iron Duke really felt about the "scum of the earth" that fought for him, why Grant drank like he did and more, buy this book!Seriously, there is no one writing thought-full military history like John Keegan.The last chapter (Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis) is pretty scary but you have to have this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars study of military leadership
Professor John Keegan�s �Mask of Command� is a far-reaching study of the military leadership through history. Keegan provides a study of the styles of 4 generals � �heroic� leadership of Alexander the Great, �non-heroic� examples of Duke of Wellington and US Grant, and a �pseudo-heroic� dictact of Adolph Hitler. Each individual study paints a quick picture of the personality of a general, reviews political situation, military technology and the prevailing warfare doctrine, reviews major battles fount and lessons learned. Of a particular importance, as is always with Keegan, are factors of technology and personality. Each of the generals will answer the question of the personal involvement and his place in battle in a different way. Alexander in always the front, in the first raw of the phalanx, mounted on a white horse, or the first scaling the walls of the besieged town. For him a general attains trust and leadership by personal example. He is the �first� of his men. Wellington and Grant are �directors� of the battle, whose purpose is to provide logistics and advise on tactics. Hitler, although he paints himself the �first soldier of the Reich� is a psychologist and a technocrat, who seeks to provide moral leadership via demagoguery alone.

This book reads like a breeze. Mostly impressive, in my own opinion, are reconstruction of the battles of Alexander from sometime scant historical evidence, insightful analysis of the unassuming leadership style of Grant, and the analysis of Wellington as an aristocrat of the battle. Great read!!! ... Read more

Isbn: 0140114068
Sales Rank: 23908
Subjects:  1. Command of troops    2. History    3. History - Military / War    4. History: American    5. Leadership    6. Military - General    7. Military Science    8. Military personnel    9. Places & peoples: general interest    10. USA    11. Warfare & Defence   


Greek and Roman Naval Warfare; A Study of Strategy, Tactics, and Ship Design from Salamis (480 B.C. to Actium)
by William Ledyard Rodgers
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 June, 1964)
list price: $45.00 -- our price: $45.00
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Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars Bad Georgaphy
An interesting book when it comes to sailing, although the author has no knowledge of the sea and the terrain of Ancient Greece and Italy. Avoid it if you are interested in naval history and naval warfare. Living in these lands makes this book look like an anti Greek propaganda.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book for the Basics of Ancient Med. naval Warfare...
It has it's limitations in that it almost entirely relies upon ancient sources for it's conclusions, and not much on Archaeology or [obviously] modern scholarship.

It's age is one of it's virtues, however. It was written at a time when Classical scholarship was much less specialized and narrow, and allowed for a more general and sweeping overview of a fascinating and immensely important subject.

I disagree with one reviewer's complaints about Rodgers' criticism of Herodotus. He was, in many ways, a purveyor of legends and fanciful tall tales. Especially when you compare his historical skills to the great Greek historians who came later such as Thyucidides and Polybius. And thank God for Both Thyucidides and Polybius. Especially Thyucidides who is our most reliable ancient source for Classical Greek naval tactics. [Along with Xenophon].

And without Polybius, we would have almost no reliable record [other than the often suspect Diodorus]of the very overlooked, but immensely important and history changing First Punic War. Arguably, the First Punic War was the most important war in Western history because, as a result of it's occurrnce, Rome became the most powerful naval power in the Mediterranean by defeating one of the most powerful Hellenistic naval powers of the time, Carthage, on it's own turf. Thus, setting the stage for all of Rome's future expansion.

This is a great book to start with, if you are interested in Ancient Mediterranean naval warfare. And it's written by a person in a position to know and understand the practicalities of what the ancient sources have reported. Another lost tradition of modern scholarship. It's better to have a well-written and reserached general overview of ancient naval warfare written by an Admiral, than it is, sometimes, to have a narrow treatise written by an academic sitting in a dusty cubicle.

At least that's my opinion.

1-0 out of 5 stars A study on how to falsify history
Calling Herodotus, the father of history, "inaccurate" and "a person who wrote tales" is considered among the historians of any time equal to blasphemy. Altering historical facts, and creating conclusions based upon imagination and modern standards is not only a crime against the memory of the ancient Greeks but also a crime against humanity. Never before have I read a book written about ancient Greece, that is so much against anything Greek. It is for sure the first time that I read that Leonidas, the 300 Spartans and the 2,000 Greeks who were sacrificed for preserving the democracy and freedom of ancient Europe in Thermopiles, where just a few cowards that withdrew in the face of the enemy surrounding them. It is crazy even to consider that the same soldiers who were fighting for six (and not two as the author states) days against 500,000 soldiers got scared and betrayed their fellow fighters and fled living the back of the Spartans open.
The strategic conclusions made on this book are completely inaccurate, since the author never visited neither Greece nor Rome. Reading the book up to page 106 when the Persian wars were concluded the author does not manage to make a single correct remark as he is totally ignorant of Greek geography and morphology, and most of all Greek way of leaving and thinking.
I was never before so disappointed from buying a book as much as I did when I bought and tried to read: Greek and Roman Naval Warfare; A Study of Strategy, Tactics, and Ship Design from Salamis (480 B.C. to Actium) by William Ledyard Rodgers ... Read more

Isbn: 0870212265
Sales Rank: 431611
Subjects:  1. General    2. Greece    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History, Naval    6. Military Science    7. Naval art and science    8. Rome   


Ancient Siege Warfare
by Paul Bentley Kern, Paul Bentley Kern
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 May, 1999)
list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
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Editorial Review

The idea of total war--meaning war waged against a whole people, rather than merely its army--didn't start with bombing raids during the Second World War. Nor did it begin with Sherman's march to the sea. Instead, it dates to the beginning of recorded history itself. "All the characteristics of modern war--the blurring of the line between battlefield and society, the engulfing of women and children in the violence of war, the destruction of society's infrastructure, the uprooting of entire populations--were anticipated in ancient siege warfare," writes authorPaul Bentley Kern. This fascinating book begins by describing the theory of siege warfare and its engineering, but focuses mainly on its historical practice from biblical times through the Roman period. Kern shows that besieging fortifications was mainly a technical problem that put warriors on the sidelines. When the problem was solved, however, "the assaulting troops found themselves not on a conventional field of battle opposed by an army but in a maze of streets and buildings opposed by an entire population," writes Kern. "Often they were under orders to sack the city, one of the few circumstances in which military commanders countenanced indiscriminate violence." Kern does not shy away from this uncomfortable fact, and actually focuses on the special plight of women and children: "Their presence threatened the notion of war as a contest between warriors, undermined the conventional standards of honor and prowess that governed ancient warfare, and paradoxically made war less restrained by creating a morally chaotic cityscape in which not only the walls collapsed but deeply rooted social and moral distinctions as well." Ancient Siege Warfare is a masterful book by an author in full command of his compelling subject. --John J. Miller ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Overview of Siege Warfare
So little has been written about ancient siege techniques that I was immediately intrigued when I first saw this book. After reading it I must profess that I enjoyed it immensely. It is at times plodding and repetitive, however it does an excellent job of emphasizing the importance of siege warfare in the ancient world. I find that I now have a much deeper appreciation of what was required to take or protect a city in ancient days.

This book provides a good overview of the developments of siege tactics throughout ancient history. Most of the subject matter deals with empires or peoples near the Mediterranean. The author does a good job of organizing the available sources to back up his discussions of different cultures, sieges, etc. At times he does attempt to expand on the sources and usually his opinions are logical interpretations. An added bonus is his bibliography which is an excellent source of references for continued research if desired.

All in all I found this book to be very interesting. It handles a lot of subject matter in detail that is usually passed over or severely summarized by military historians. Even a seasoned military historian will find that he has learned something from this book. It brings a surprising level of humanity to ancient warfare. However, one thing I do wish the book had was a chapter that went in depth into the design and manufacture of the different siege machinery. This is touched on but not nearly enough.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting & Detailed Account of Ancient Siege Warfare
After I finished reading this book I was not too sure how I felt, I was a bit ambivalent about how good or bad it was. At times I found it hard going to continue but then it picked up with a very interesting account of some particular siege or battle. However other times I felt it was becomingrepetitive, the same story with variations on the number of dead or the waythe victors tortured or killed their enemies. There is no doubt that theauthor has thoroughly researched the subject but the narrative came acrossa bit dry in the end. The chapters on the Roman army's conduct of siegeoperations stand out. There were a number of line drawings and maps but Ifound the maps to be of poor quality, I'm sure better ones could have beenfound. If you are looking for a detailed account of how siege operationswere carried out in ancient times and the result of those sieges then thisis the book for you. I can only say that I did not find the narrative asfree flowing as I usually like in a book, it was almost like reading aschool text book at times. I would recommend this book only for those whohave a keen interest in the subject matter. ... Read more

Isbn: 0253335469
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Conventional Warfare    3. History    4. History - Military / War    5. Military    6. Military - Other    7. Military - Strategy    8. Military History - Ancient    9. Military Science    10. Military history, Ancient    11. Siege warfare    12. Military History   


Battles of the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Chronological Compendium of 667 Battles to 31Bc, from the Historians of the Ancient World
by John Drogo Montagu
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 April, 2000)
list price: $49.95
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Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good but not Superlative
Montague's book is great as a definitive compilation of the wars of the classical Greco-Roman world.I, however, found it lacking because the author did not go into depth in any particular battle.Battlefieldschimatics, which would bring an entirely more comprehensive depth to thetext, are rare, and the military tactics of some of the world's greatestgenerals find themselves subordinate to the breadth of the subject itself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nothing but battles
This book is sure to become a gem someday, at least for wargamers.

Right from the start the author lists all the major and minor battles from the Persian Wars through to the end of the Roman Republic.When he can helists the size and composition of both armies involved, a little backgroundto the particular battle, what happened, and the end result.He also makesa mention of how "trusted" his data is for each battle.Thebattles are listed in chronological order, with a heading of each campaignor war they occurred.After each description are references to some morecommon original sources (Thycudides, Xenophon, etc) for those that wishmore detail.

He has some excellent geographical maps for the Hellenesticworld, marking most major cities (on some level) involved or mentioned inthis book.Montagu provides some excellent indicies & timelines of thebattles, the partcipants, and the outcome.He also has a good discussionof the validity of his reported "facts" right at thestart.

This book could be helped out with more diagrams of individualbattles - there are precious few of these.And this book is also not theend-all of information about any particular battle or war.

But it willbe an invaluable reference for me, and it contains more than enoughinformation and references to be an excellent starting point for furtherresearch.This book is sure to grace the shelves of most wargamers' andmilitary historians' libraries. ... Read more

Isbn: 1853673897
Sales Rank: 186501
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient - Rome    3. Battles    4. Chronology    5. Greece    6. History    7. History - Military / War    8. History: World    9. Military - General    10. Military History - Ancient    11. Military history, Ancient    12. Rome   

The Military Institutions of the Romans (Military Classics)
by Flavius Vegetius Renatus, Brigadier General Thomas R. Phillips, John, Lieut. Clark
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (22 January, 1985)
list price: $59.95
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bible of European soldiers for a thousand years
Vegetius' compilation of the military wisdom and costoms of the Romans has been the most influential military work written in the western world.Compiled for the Emperor Valentinian II about 390 ad, just before Rome wascaptured and burned by Alaric, King of the Goths, it was circulated for athousand years in manuscript form.First printed in English in 1489.Thiswork helped to bring back discipline and cadenced marching. "discipline is superior to strength; but if that discipline isneglected there is no longer any difference between the soldier and thepeasant."

copied from introduction of book ... Read more

Isbn: 0313246904
Sales Rank: 1325972
Subjects:  1. Army    2. History - Military / War    3. Military - General    4. Military art and science    5. Rome   

The Roman Imperial Army: Of the First and Second Centuries A.D.
by Graham Webster
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 March, 1998)
list price: $18.51 -- our price: $12.59
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A very detailed account of the Roman Army
Since I was interetsed in ancient military and Roman history I picke dup this title. Not a good place to begin if you are new to Roman history due to the highly detailed mannner of this book's layout. I strongly recommend that before tackling this book you start out with the idiots guide to the Roman Empire. That way you'll at least have some background. Well about this book:gives a detailed account of how the Roman army performed their daily rituals, camp formations, battle tactics, etc. But overall well worth the Amazon.com price and well worth your time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Roman Imperial Army:of the First and Second Centuries A.D.
I loved this book!I think this book was great because it had so much information.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not light reading
Graham Webster's book is considered to be one of those definitive works on the Roman Army. It is most definitely that, but as previously noted it isn't for the beginner and/or the casual reader. Professor Webster writesthe book with the eye of an archeologist. The chapters are very specificand dedicated to such topics as the soldiers clothes, armor, weapons,religious practices, the layout of their camps and forts, their dailyrituals, tactics, organization in the field and in garrison. There areother chapters as well but this gives you a clear idea of what the book isabout. It isn't an historical account of battles, campaigns, and politics.No this is a book about the institution itself. For those who are trulyintruiged by Rome then this is the book for you. I've read it several timesover the past five years and I never grow tired of it. For a nice companionbook which covers the campaigns and politics read Hugh Elton or LawrenceKeppie. ... Read more

Isbn: 0806130008
Sales Rank: 378782
Subjects:  1. 30 B.C.-476 A.D    2. Ancient - Rome    3. Ancient Rome - History    4. Army    5. History    6. History - Military / War    7. History, Military    8. Military    9. Military - General    10. Military History - Ancient    11. Military antiquities    12. Rome   


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire : Volumes 1, 2, 3 (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (26 October, 1993)
list price: $60.00 -- our price: $34.00
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Editorial Review

British parliamentarian and soldier Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) conceived of his plan forDecline and Fall while "musing amid the ruins of the Capitol" on a visit to Rome. Forthe next 10 years he worked away at his great history, which traces the decadence of the late empire fromthe time of the Antonines and the rise of Western Christianity. "The confusion of the times, and thescarcity of authentic memorials, pose equal difficulties to the historian, who attempts to preserve a clearand unbroken thread of narration," he writes. Despite these obstacles, Decline and Fallremains a model of historical exposition, and required reading for students of European history. ... Read more


  • Box set
Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Everyman's edition, volumes 1, 2, & 3 (boxed) of 6
This is the best edition available of Gibbon's history.

-It has all of Gibbon's footnotes ;
-it is packaged in an attractive boxed set;
-it's hard bound in good plain cloth, not snobby leather;
-it's printed on fine paper;
-it can be expected to last into the next century;
-it leaves enough white margin for writing notes;
-it has an index;
-it even smells good.


-It gives no translation of the better Latin and Greek passages;
-Don't forget to order the other half (volumes 4, 5, and 6).

(The only other edition worth considering is the paperback Penguin edition. It also contains the full notes, and it is cheaper, but it is bulkier since two volumes are bound as one and the paper is of much lower quality, so the that other edition won't last much more than 10 or 20 years...)

5-0 out of 5 stars Still a Classic
Roman Empire history is fascinating because it showed the potential for human development in an efficient system.But it is perhaps more enlightening in showing how a great can degenerate into complete and utter chaos.Gibbon is a great historian and a kind of story-teller who helps the reader understand the phenomena of the rise and the fall of a great empire.A must read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wise, influential, incomparable
Gibbon's great work was published in the late 18th century.Don't read it looking for a contemporary style "historical analysis."Read it for its timeless wisdom and beauty, for which there is no parallel. Today's college history text is to Gibbon as the latest Spice Girls album is to Mozart.

Winston Churchill was largely self-educated, and he wrote that Gibbon loomed large in his reading during his early 20's.Read Gibbon; then read Churchill's famous war speeches.Notice the cadence, and consider why Churchill's Nobel prize was awarded for his oratory.

Ah, Sunday morning, a pot of coffee, and Gibbon! You can obtain Gibbon's history in many different editions new and old, cheap paperbacks and pricy collectors versions.Just get one, preferably unabridged, and enjoy.
... Read more

Isbn: 0679423087
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Ancient Rome - History    3. Byzantine Empire    4. Empire, 30 B.C.-476 A.D    5. Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History: World    9. Rome    10. To 527    11. History / Ancient / Rome   


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