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The Ghosts of Cannae is at once a book about a specific battle (the massive defeat of a huge but inexperienced Roman army in southern Italy by Hannibal in 216 BC) and also an interpretation of the larger course of the Second Punic War, as well as an assessment of the historical impact of Rome's storied rivalry with Carthage. What ties the book together is the fate of the survivors, their treatment by the authorities in Rome, and ultimately their vindication nearly two decades later, when they defeated Hannibal at the decisive battle of Zama in North Africa. With an unforgettable cast of heroes and villains, The Ghosts of Cannae is history at its finest.
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By Douglas on 11-10-10
Many books that center on a specific event such as a battle tend to lack a global perspective. Robert O'Connell with Ghosts not only delivers all the blood and guts a body could hope for, not to mention a heavy dose of strategy and tactics, he neatly integrates this story into the greater story of man. He does what historians are supposed to do. He teaches lessons that shouldn't be learned the hard way. Ever since that hot day in August 216 BC, generals in every generation have been looking for their own holy grail; their own Cannae. Some were close, but no cigar. Rome's solution to the Hannibal problem would turn out to be their undoing. The days of the amateur generals were gone, and the professional armies turned power brokers were here to stay.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Ivan on 10-14-10
Fantastic Narrative History
This is one of the best history audiobooks I've encountered. Rather than a meta-level analysis of the events, the author focuses on the narrative of what happened during the second punic war. In other words, the narrative is really the star here, which is fantastic because the events of the second punic war are so intriguing, so full of twists and turns and larger than life figures, that they easily carry the show.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful