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The Praetorian Guard (Elite) Paperback – January 27, 1994

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$11.80 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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The Praetorian Guard (Elite) + The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome's Elite Special Forces + Roman Legionary AD 69-161 (Warrior)
Price for all three: $58.68

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

An unrivalled illustrated reference source on fighting men and commanders, past and present. Each volume is packed with full colour artwork, making military history uniquely accessible to enthusiasts of all ages.

About the Author

Dr Boris Rankov was born in 1954 and studied Classics and Ancient History at Oxford, where he also wrote his doctoral thesis on Roman military staff officers. He has held a Research Fellowship at Oxford and lectureships in the United States and Western Australia. While at Oxford, he rowed in six winning Boat Race crews and has, since 1988, been one of the rowing masters on the reconstructed Greek trireme Olympias. He is joint author of a forthcoming study on Roman military intelliegence, and is currently Lecturer in Ancient History at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London.

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Product Details

  • Series: Elite (Book 50)
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Edition edition (January 27, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1855323613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1855323612
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on April 22, 2006
At only 62 pages this was better than I thought it would be. First it is an obscure and often neglected topic of the "Roman World." Starting from its inception during the long reign of the Emperor Augustus up to its disbandment. Their recruitment, uniforms, role, history, and equipment are all touched on to varying degrees. The photographs were somewhat more instructive than the color plates which were not nearly as good as Angus McBrides. There is a lengthy bibliography for further research.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dimitrios on December 6, 2004
Mr Rankov's book earns 5 stars because it remains the single book written about the Roman Praetorian Guard. It contains much information based on good and extensive bibliography and will surely satisfy the enthusiasts of this ancient period with the numerous b/w photographs and the color drawings which are explained in exhaustively detailed captions. A nice first try on the subject.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ng on May 21, 2001
This is a rather good book, a typical Osprey Publishing production. The topic is the Praetorian Guard, the bodyguard of the Roman emperors from Augustus until their disbanding in the early 4th Century AD by Constantine. This is a very good introduction to this elite military unit and is one of the few English sources on the topic...the majority are either in French or Italian and a few others are merely secondary sources that mention the Guard only in passing. The color plates are also excellent works as usual, some are of course conjectural as most of the sculptures and artwork of the Romans have been damaged or lost their own paint over the years. The authors make no pretension as to the accuracy of the color of the Roman shields but the shield designs are pretty accurately described and drawn. Other than that it's a rather good book with a good amount of very useful information for the beginning person interested in Rome or maybe even the experienced historian interested in Rome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ky. Col. on December 26, 2007
The Praetorian Guard developed in infamous reputation through massacres and bloody power struggles in ancient Rome. This Osprey book is a concise work detailing the elite formation's history, dress, and equipment. Events are covered from the Guard's formation to Nero's Germaic bodyguards to the final battle against Constantine at the Milvian Bridge. The colored illustrations are well done and nicely complement the text. Overall, a useful book for anyone wanting a general view of the Praetorian Guard or just interested in Roman Military history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yoda on January 19, 2014
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At 64 pages this book is relatively short. Despite its brevity, however, it does a decent job at introducing the reader to the subject. The first third of the book covers the history of the Guard while the remaining two-thirds covers uniforms, decorations and other aesthetics. With respect to both the book provides fairly short but decent coverage.

From the first third, the history, the reader learns (not surprisingly) that the Guard’s history started off as personal bodyguards, albeit informal, to generals. Then the reader learns how this role became more formal and how it evolved into the personal bodyguard of the Emperor. The reader also learns how the role of the Guard changed over time, particularly in terms of different emperor’s reigns. The reader learns how the Guard became more and more involved in politics to the point they became kingmakers and were, eventually, disbanded by the Roman Constantine (because of this threat). The reader also learns how the composition of the Guard changed from almost entirely Roman to barbarian and how the Guard also developed into a fighting force on to its own right (as opposed to merely serving as the bodyguard of the Emperor). Very interesting. This reviewer only wishes that the author had spent more time on the history of the guard instead of its uniforms, standards, etc.

With respect to the coverage of uniforms, standards, etc. the coverage is also impressive. The author provides many illustrations from sculptures, amphora, mosaics, etc. that illustrate how the appearance of the Guard changed over the course of its history. For the figurine and diorama, as well as the illustrator, a very useful book especially considering (and ironically) the paucity of material on the subject. Despite its mere 40 pages of coverage of this topic, more than just a rudimentary introduction.

In short, a very decent overview of the subject, which is richly illustrated, despite its succinct length. Four stars.
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