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Carausius and Allectus: The British Usurpers (Roman Imperial Biographies)

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0713471700
ISBN-10: 0713471700
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Casey is one of the world's leading experts on Roman coinage, especially that of Britain and Asia Minor. An experienced excavator (he has just published, with J.L. Davies, a report on seven years' digging at Segontium in North Wales), he is Reader in Roman Archaeology at the University of Durham. He is the author of, among other works, Roman coinage in Britain and Understanding ancient coins>
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Product Details

  • Series: Roman Imperial Biographies
  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: B.T. Batsford (September 5, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713471700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713471700
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,745,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The political history of Roman Britain is not well-documented, and among its more shadowy reaches is the ten-year period (286-296 A.D.) during which the island formed an effectively independent realm under the "emperors" Carausius and Allectus. The literary evidence for these figures is windy and exiguous, but they left behind large numbers of coins of many different types. P. J. Casey, an archeologist and numismatist, believing that coinage, properly interpreted, can make significant contributions to the historical record, has taken up the challenge of reconstructing the skeleton, if not the torso, of the Carausian regime.
The greatest part of the book is not a true narrative (which would take up only a few pages) but rather an analysis of raw data from speeches, chronicles, coins and excavations. The presentation is admirably lucid, but readers who are easily bored by tables of the distribution of mint marks may lose the thread.
Casey's efforts produce a convincing outline, tracing events from the rebellion of Carausius (a naval commander, assigned to chase pirates on the Gallic coast, who was accused of snatching their booty for his own purse) through his establishment of control over Britain, his loss and recapture of possessions on the continent, his overthrow by his treasurer Allectus and the latter's defeat by the Caesar Constantius (father of Constantine the Great) or, to be precise, by one of the latter's subordinates, who of course received no official credit. Unfortunately, the outline cannot be fleshed out with much detail. Even major incidents, such as the failure of the Roman authorities' first attempt at reconquest, are known only by inference.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of these usurpers is vague to us, thanks to only meager surviving literary references and sources. But Mr. Casey has drawn on archaeological and numismatic evidence to fill in many gaps and construct a very plausible timeline and chain of events, much of which contradicts long-held beliefs. Those looking for detailed information on either the usurpers or their activities will not find it here, or likely anywhere. But this book goes as far as I believe it can based on the available materials.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book I was amazed that there was enough information available for a book on these two figures of the rule of Diocletian and Maximian. I was excited and bought the book. Bad idea. I WAS RIGHT... there is NOT enough material to write a good book about these two people. At best they could have written a 20 or 30 page essay that could have made an interesting overview of the rule of these two usurpers.

Instead we are treated to 190 pages of incredibly dry material, with detailed coin analysis, speculation about every thread of evidence, and a detailed review about the insignificant impact of Carausius in post Roman Britian. Other books I read on the Roman period typically have 1/3 to 1/4 of the book as appendix so I can 'refer' to details on the narrative without a large sidebar away from the main story. This book has almost no appendix because he needed it all to fill the book. There is no attempt to tell the story of these two men as you are weighed down in the details of numismatic and archeological speculation. This book will only be useful as a reference book for scholars doing their own thesis. Educated general readers like myself will not like this book.
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