Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Looking for the Audiobook Edition? Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.
This book does a great job in summarizing a complex and little known topic in about 200 pages (a bit less in fact, if you leave out the bibliography): that of naval warfare from Alexander the Great to the battle of Actium. It is generally well written and the author had certainly done his research, even if naval warfare may not be his favorite topic (he seems to have a soft spot for the Seleukids. His book on Seleukos is in fact excellent, although perhaps not targeted at a wider audience). The book should be both commended and recommended as a very useful introduction for anyone interested in the naval warfare of that period. It could also be seen as a companion book for any historical novel that includes some naval warfare for this period (such as some of the books in Christian Cameron's Tyrant series or the three books on the First Punic war by Mr Stack).
There are, however, a couple of limits. One has been to gloss over the logistical and economic aspects of naval warfare. The other has been the need to simplify, so that a large part of the discussions on ships' sizes and performances have been cut out.
Choosing to avoid most of the discussion on the logistical and economic aspects of naval warfare is understantable to a point. However, it is also a bit of a pity because by doing this the book fails to explain some of the events, such as the demise of Athens as a naval superpower. The drain that a large number of ever larger ships exercized on any city's (or medium-size kingdom) financial and human resources was such that only powers that had both large huiman and financial resources could afford a large fleet.Read more ›
This is the third book by this author that I have read in as many weeks, so obviously I have a high opinion of him. The first two - Seleukos Nikator: Constructing a Hellenistic Kingdom; Hellenistic Phoenicia - were published by academic presses, whereas this is by a publisher targeting a more general readership. The book itself is as well written and researched as the previous two. The Notes however are mainly straightforward citation references, without the in-depth criticism of the sources you find in the academic volumes.
The 16 chapters are arranged thus: 1-6 66pp, Alexander, his Successors & the Ptolemaic Sea-Empire 7-9 46pp, Carthage, Sicily and Rome 10-14 60pp, Roman Domination and Empire-building 15,16 15pp, Roman Civil Wars Plus Conclusion, Notes, Bibliography, Index and 10 pages of good maps.
Chapter 5 - Demetrios the Sea-King and the Super-Galleys - includes a discussion of ship-types and the introduction of the big ships, which dominate the fleets to the end of the period. P51: "The names given to the ships describe the number of rowers. It was normal to propel a galley with two or three banks of oars, rowed by oarsmen in files, and it is the number of files which gives each class its name. The Trireme, always the basis from which the discussion must proceed, had three oars in each set, each pulled by one man, so there were six files of men the length of the ship. Quadriremes had two oars manned by two men each; quinquiremes had three oars, two of them pulled by two men, and the third by one.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
This is not quite a blow-by-blow description of centuries of Mediterranean naval warfare, but close. And that's a good thing: it's a compact book, information-rich and well written. On a scale of technology to history, it is weighted more to the latter, i.e. there is little (though sufficient) description of warship types and more thorough treatment of general history including Successor politics and the Roman-Carthaginian feud which make sense of the strategies and alliances.
On the Kindle edition specifically: this has the most viewable illustrations (on my Kindle Keboard) of any I've seen - that is, they work properly on a non-backlit display instead of being too small or too low-contrast.
Was this review helpful to you?