am 31. Mai 2000
This book is not the definitive history of Rome's wars, but a well-constructed survey of how it prepared, equipped, manned and made war, using selected illustrative examples from each stage of development over the thousand-year period.
Goldsworthy sets his task as tracing the development of warfare within the context of the evolution of the army and state: the nature of the army, why and with what objectives if fought a war, and the way in which it operated, taking into consideration the military institutions of the main enemies in each era. Matters such as arms,armor and equipment are handled succinctly by use of drawings and diagrams, which are especially good at depicting battle tactics for the major encounters. The positions of troops are shown as if from an aerial view rather than the bare schematic bars and squares usually shown.
Despite being touted as a general, introductory text, there is plenty to keep the knowledgeable reader interested as well. I found new insights in every chapter, which follow a chronological rather than topical arrangement.
Being pitched at the general reader, as is required by Cassell's _History of Warfare_ series, the book is heavily illustrated. This has its good and bad features. Mostly, the illustration are taken from columns, gravemarkers, monuments and ruins of forts. They are usually provided with detailed captions to explain the significance of the features shown therein. My only complaint is that some of the pictures occupy a full-page or two-page spread where a smaller image would have sufficed. I expect this is due to the publisher's required text-to-illustration ratio.
Here is an example of Goldsworthy's exposition, taken from his section on Caesar in Gaul. After a brief excerpt from Julius Caesar's _Bellum Gallicum_, describing the battle at Sambre in 57 BC, Goldsworthy remarks:
"It is worth noting that Caesar, although he had moved into the front line, does not bother to tell us whether or not he actuallt fought hand-to-hand. What he does stress is that he exposed himself to danger in order more effectively to do his job of encouraging the battle line. The general's job was to lead and control his army, not inspire them with his personal prowess, like the warrior aristocrats of early Rome or Alexander the Great who consciously emulated the behavior of Homeric heroes."
The book is filled with such helpful commentary.
Every epoch (including that of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, of _Gladiator_ fame) is depicted, showing how the financial and political policies of the emperors and senate affected the abilities of the armies to do what was expected.
A detailed chronology, a glossary that actually explains rather than merely annotates terms, a brief review of the ancient sources for each chapter, mini biographies of each of the luminaries, and a well thought out reading list for each chapter all add to the books usefulness.
Highly recommended both as a "first book" for novices and a handy references for old hands.
am 4. April 2009
This book is all about the history of Roman warfare. It is spanning the time period from the very beginning of the Roman Republic till the fall of the Empire, almost a thousand years later.
What is the explanation for the big success and the longevity of the successes of the Romans? What seemed to be the clue to success at the start turned out to be everlasting: First of all the total dedication to the task of destroying the opponent without any compromises, on the other side the lack of ongoing sentiments towards the once defeated which included the absorption of them, shown very clearly also in the fact that they used auxiliary forces. It went even so far that non- italian generals became emperors ("Turn the enemy of today into the Roman soldier of tomorrow").
All the capacity of the Empire was mobilized to serve the military. It was a military state. The Romans acquired the best weaponry, they had a well organized logistic support (which alone can stand for winning wars!), they had the most effective training which became over the years a highly professional affair and what was most decisive, they had the best tactics in uniform with a functioning discipline. And not least: "The Roman military system was characterized by its flexibility." Flexibility being a skill that later showed to be so decisive in Napoleons victories and the German "Blitzkrieg" troops (interestingly both Napoleon and the Nazis used old Roman symbols).
In fact there is almost nothing in modern armies of today that had not a forerunner and model in the Roman army (drill and clearly defined unit organization and command structure).
It were the Roman armies who laid the foundations of modern Europe more than Roman laws and education or whatever Latin input. Roman politics and warfare was closely connected. The right to exercise power in peacetime was purchased by the obligation to provide successful leadership in war. Even the word imperator means general.
The origins of the army in a citizens` militia, in which the whole community served in differing capacities according to their age and status, left a sense of shared endeavour. They fought, so to speak, for their own interests.
The Roman practise to turn defeated enemies into subordinate allies meant to use the resources of the conquest. But in the end it could have contributed to the fall of Rome.
Because too many non-italians became "Romans". Such in the case of Arminius who was a Germanic General in the Roman army. He organized the exterminating defeat of three Roman legions. This lead to the abandoning of the plans to conquer the land east of the Rhine from which later the fall of the Roman Empire was enforced, but from where also people invaded who later formed the French and English nations.
Roman rule was imposed and maintained by force, but it inaugurated in most areas periods of peace and prosperity far greater than was enjoyed in the centuries before or after the Empire.
There are too many aspects of Roman warfare that they could all be treated in detail in this volume. Therefore the author has tried to trace the development of warfare within the context of the evolution of the army and state, or at least those aspects of politics and society connected with the military. The nature of the army, why and with what objectives it fought a war, and the way in which it operated are discussed for each period and placed in the context of the military institutions of the main opponents.
Aspects as equipment, career and service patterns, daily routine, administration of the provinces, layout of forts and bases are only dealt with briefly. But every chapter of the book has a bibliography list about works that deal with these issues. This book can serve as a starting point for more study into any more specific topic. There is even a section listing Greek and Latin sources.
The book contains a chronology of events in short, then it goes on with chapters about Early Rome and the Conquest of Italy. In this period a nation established. The second chapter is about the wars with Carthage and the Hellenistic kingdoms which assured the Roman supremacy over the Mediterranean Seas and the most competitive opponents all around. The third chapter is on the "world conquest" which means the conquest of the known "civilized" world (the countries around the Mediterranean Seas including Egypt, Syria, Gaul, Spain, Northern Africa) till the day of the first emperor Augustus with the "disaster in Germany (that) marked the end of the great period of Roman expansion." Following are the chapters about consolidation and control of the "World", about crisis and reforms, the collapse in the West and the Recovery in the East.
It should not be forgotten that the eastern "Roman Empire" had to live on till the 15.th century with the capital of Constantinople, until the Turks ended it, while Charlemagne was the first Germanic king who was crowned "Roman Emperor" some 300 years after the fall of the western Roman Empire to revive a so called successor "Roman Empire". This lasted one thousand years till the times of Napoleon in a succession of German kings crowned by the Pope to be "Roman" emperor. But that was politics and symbols.
There are helpful maps for every period of time. The photos are just good for breaking up the text. The text is apparently written from an expert. This book is good for what the author destined it.
am 10. Mai 2000
The field of Roman warfare is an area of interest that has attracted widespread fascination from the time of the Roman Caesars themselves. Many of the surviving representations of Roman art, such as the Arch of Titus and the Column of Trajan, show us Roman legionaries like those commanded by General Maximus (Russel Crowe) in the new Ridley Scott/Dreamworks' epic "Gladiator!" Adrian Goldsworthy's superb book Roman Warfare could not come at a better time, since the field of historical reenactment of the time of the Roman legions is more popular than ever. In England, where the outdoor battle scenes of the "Gladiator" movie were filmed, reenactment groups like the Ermine Street Guard have raised the art of historical reenactment to true perfection. Many of the extras in the movie "Gladiator" probably came from these British reenactment groups! Coming out now from Cassell, a British publishing house with a firm reputation in military publishing, Adrian Goldsworthy's Roman Warfare is a welcome addition to the growing field of Roman military history. With the new information continually coming to light about the brave Roman legions from archaeologic excavations at historical sites in England and in Europe, Goldsworthy's book is an essential addition to the book shelf of anyone interested in the Roman legions which wrote so much of European history. Roman Warfare clearly focuses on all the aspects of the Roman war machine, which for centuries ruled the battle fields from Hadrian's Wall in England to the frontier of the Danube River and the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa. Close attention is paid to the many campaigns of the Roman Army--featuring great generals like Julius Caesar--as well as to a clear explanation of the organization of the army which made the legions of Rome supreme against any adversaries. Joining a clear text with well-chosen illustrations, a combined operation of real sophistication, the book is a welcome find for any scholar and a fine introduction to anyone inspired by the "Gladiator" movie to learn more about the soldiers of General Maximus. Goldsworthy's book comes packed with much information that will lead to rewarding further study of this exciting subject. As the Roman legionaries would say themselves, "Ave Caesar!" "Hail Caesar!"
am 17. April 2005
Dieses Buch im Westentaschenformat umreisst auf knapp 200 Seiten die Entwicklung der römischen Armee in knapp 600 Jahren.
Jede Seite ist vollgepackt mit Details zu Ausrüstung und Gliederung der Einheiten. Darüberhinaus wird die oberste Hierarchie-Ebene verdeutlicht, so vollzieht sich der Wandel von Republik zu Imperium und der Zerfall eben jenes Imperiums im Hintergrund der militärischen Notwendigkeiten. Das Ganze ohne zu einem Buch über Politik zu werden.
Es werden ebenso die Taktiken wie auch die Strategien der verschiedenen Epochen erläutert und anhand von einleuchtenden Beispielen detailliert.
Wie der Autor es fertigbringt in diesem Format soviel Info zu bringen und dazu noch lebendig und allgemeinverständlich zu schreiben ist eine grossartige Leistung. Nebenbei lernt man noch die wichtigsten lateinischen Begriffe im Militärjargon, oder wussten Sie woher das Wort "dezimieren" kommt?
Absolut genial, für Einsteiger in die Materie ein Muss aber auch für alte Hasen eine leckere Zusammenfassung.