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Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization Hardcover – July 21, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st Us Edition edition (July 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022663
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Mr. Miles has skilfully fused the works of ancient historians such as Polybius and Livy, a wide range of modern studies and recent archaeological research to create a convincing and enthralling narrative The Economist Richard Miles's Carthage Must be Destroyed is a refreshing addition to the debate -- Philip Parker Financial Times This is a lively and compelling, chronological account of Carthage from its Phoenician foundation to its reception in Emperor Augustus's Rome -- Literary Review Paul Cartledge Richard Miles tells this story with tremendous elan, combining the best of modern scholarship with narrative pace and energy. It is a superb achievement, a model for all such endeavours. He is even better on the little-known background to this tale -- Peter Jones Telegraph The dramatic story of these events is set out in gripping detail The Scotsman Miles ... has written an epic and fascinating new history of the city ... [and] performed a splendid feat of resurrectionism -- Tom Holland The Spectator Miles helps to fill in the blanks with this thoughtful and meticulous book -- Daniel Metcalfe Guardian Carthage's fate was sad indeed, but Miles here has done much to bring it to dramatic life -- John Dillon Irish Times A fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world ... Richard Miles is ... concerned with the wider context ... and his book is all the more valuable for that Wall Street Journal --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Richard Miles is a Newton Trust lecturer in the Faculty of Classics and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. He has written widely on Punic, Roman and Vandal North Africa and has directed archaeological excavations in Carthage and Rome. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

A good introduction to Carthage and very useful as a reference book.
Paul A. Barron
One of the great figures in history is Hannibal, who famously moved his army from Southern Spain to Italy, a feat arguably comparable to Alexander the Great.
Anyone who is interested in learning the full (well, what is known) details about Carthage and its history, needs to read this book.
Ben Kane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

230 of 236 people found the following review helpful By Ben Kane on September 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Until the publication of this excellent book, the preeminent text about Carthage was the 1995 volume Carthage by the French historian Serge Lancel. This, an outstanding contribution to the patchy knowledge we have of Carthage, has just been eclipsed. One might think that part of the reason for this is that Carthage Must Be Destroyed did not need to be translated (inevitably, there were some places where Lancel's text became unwieldy). It's far from that: this is a better written, easier to follow, more rounded book than Lancel's.

Miles begins with the Phoenicians, the people who founded Carthage, and goes on from there. His style is at all times enjoyable, and his arguments well presented. Apart from the obvious following of Carthage's history, he goes into great depth about subjects such as the manner in which Hannibal aped the feats of Hercules in order to show that he had divine backing, and how the Romans fought back against this religious propaganda. He also explains in depth how, from the time of the Second Punic War onwards, the Romans made their business to portray the Carthaginians as untrustworthy, perfidious liars and cheats. This in turn allowed them to show themselves as more heroic and steadfast.

Anyone who is interested in learning the full (well, what is known) details about Carthage and its history, needs to read this book. I for one will be returning to it again and again in the future. In my opinion, leading Lancel's book is also a good idea. Another interesting text is Daily Life in Carthage At the Time of Hannibal by the academic Gilbert Charles-Picard. Although it was written in the 1960s, it has some useful information about Carthaginian culture.

Ben Kane, author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome and The Forgotten Legion.
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164 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Amrit on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Mediterranean is perhaps one of the most diverse regions of the world rivalled only by South East Asia. It is shared by Arabs, Turks, Israelis, Greeks, Eastern Europeans and Western Europeans. Miles' book studies an era of the ancient Mediterranean when diverse peoples also shared the region. Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Libyans, Romans, Gauls and Spaniards all lived around the sea both competing and co-operating with each other. Miles study arguably is the definitive history of one of those peoples, the Carthaginians.

The narrative commences with the foundation of the city from Tyre by the legendary Queen Elissa (or Dido). Over time, the Carthaginians gained control of the area that today is Tunisia. From that base became a successful trading and maritime power. A key asset that the Carthaginians exploited early on was the silver mined in Spain, providing an early foundation for the city's wealth. The Rio Tinto area still has the huge slag heaps produced by the mining operations of the time. The importance of commanding access to silver is a recurrent theme in antiquity and later, for example in the importance of the Laurium silver mines to Athens and the significance of the silver of the Potosi mine in Peru to the rise of the West after the sixteenth century (Frank, Reorient).

One of the original reasons for the expansion into the Western Mediterranean by Tyre was the need to find resources such as silver to feed the "Assyrian beast", Tyre's overlord at the time. However, it was eventually Carthage that inherited these resources and its "renown would soon come to far outshine the faded lustre of its Phoenician parent".

Carthage became a major manufacturer of goods which it sold throughout the Mediterranean and an agricultural producer.
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237 of 281 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Fleming on August 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carthage Must Be Destroyed is a pretty fair example of a new style in the writing of ancient history, one that combines a great deal of secondary bibliography with an ideological or polemical fixation usually aimed at debunking traditional interpretations but tends to lack a firm grasp of ancient literature. If Carthage has been portrayed as an enemy of Western civilization, then it must now be reinvented as the equal or superior. If Carthaginian foreign policy has been generally regarded as imperialistic, the tables must now be turned to make Carthage the victim of Greek aggression. It's not a bad gig, really, and it opens the door to hundreds of dissertations and books.

On the whole, Richard Miles is less tendentious than many younger ancient historians and more willing to consider the fine points. His emphasis on the syncretism of Greek and Phoenician culture in Sicily and Sardinia is useful and usually keeps him from demonizing the Greeks. Nonetheless, his treatment of Greek sources is sloppy, and it is not at all clear that he knows Greek--the necessary language, since the best sources on Carthage are written in Greek--or sufficiently understands Greek literature and history. For example, he pops out Herodotus' tale that Gelon of Syracuse was waiting to see which side won (during the invasion of 480) before declaring his allegiance without considering Herodotus' willingness to repeat any story he has heard or Herodotus' generally favorable view of Gelon, whom he does not accuse of Medizing. Besides, even if the story is literally true, it means no more than that Gelon, in the midst of defending Sicily from invasion, could not really spare his forces to fight against the Persians, and, if the Persians won, it would be foolish to declare his enmity.
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