Adrian Goldsworthy has received wide acclaim for his exceptional writing on the Roman Empire - including high praise from the acclaimed military historian and author John Keegan - and here he offers a new perspective on the empire by focusing on its greatest generals, including Scipio Africanus, Marius, Pompey, Caesar, and Titus. Each chapter paints a fascinating portrait of a single general, offering in-depth insight into his leadership skills and victories as well as each one's pioneering strategies, many of which are still used today. In the process this absorbing, accessible history tells the complete story of Roman warfare, from the bitter struggle with Carthage in the third century BC to the last desperate attempt to win back the Western Empire in the sixth century AD.
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This pie was all crust, no filling
The author starts the book with a lengthy disclaimer describing the scarcity of sources and reliable information for the individuals and periods he discusses and his reluctance to make assumptions or put weight on modern analysis of them. I would describe my knowledge of Roman history as a little more in-depth than the average random person, by no means an expert.
My chief complaint about this book is that it offered no analysis or new thought about these individuals or events. It felt like a rote recital of basic information that is covered in many other books. With only a little bit of exaggeration, I would describe his coverage of the events as more a summary of the facts. Given the lack of new thought or perspective on the subject, I am unsure what the author's goal was in writing this book.
I fully acknowledge that he states very clearly at the beginning of the book that sources and reliable information are scarce and notes that he will not wander off into questionable analysis. But I was still expecting to learn something new and interesting, or at least get the author's viewpoint on these events.
No, I read and enjoyed Goldsworthy's books on Caesar, Augustus, and Cicero. Based on my experience reading these three books, I would definitely try another book from him.
Great series of analyses of Roman Generalship