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

4.3 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

"Historian Richard Mills, of Cambridge, makes telling use of the latest discoveries yielded by Carthaginian ruins in a splendid, comprehensive effort to present the city-state as a dynamic entity and minimize it as a victimized, second-tier society so often portrayed in the histories of Roman and Western interpreters. Blood-curdling battles receive their pyrrhic due, and Hannibal's trans-Alps adventure and his humbling demise are covered in masterful detail."
-(Newark) "Star-Ledger"

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

"You know a story is great when it grips you even when you know how it turns out ... Miles has written an engaging, richly documented study that merges able storytelling with equally able scholarship. It's quite a tale."
-"Philadelphia Inquirer"

"Historian Richard Mills, of Cambridge, makes telling use of the latest discoveries yielded by Carthaginian ruins in a splendid, comprehensive effort to present the city-state as a dynamic entity and minimize it as a victimized, second-tier society so often portrayed in the histories of Roman and Western interpreters. Blood-curdling battles receive their pyrrhic due, and Hannibal's trans-Alps adventure and his humbling demise are covered in masterful detail."
-(Newark) "Star-Ledger"

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

About the Author

Richard Miles teaches ancient history at the University of Sydney and is a Fellow-Commoner of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. He has written widely on Punic, Roman, and Vandal North Africa and has directed archaeological excavations in Carthage and Rome. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia, and Cambridge, England.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st Us Edition edition (July 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022663
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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