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The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army in the East (Clarendon Paperbacks) Paperback – September 30, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0198149521 ISBN-10: 0198149522 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (September 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198149522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198149521
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,478,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for the first edition: "His book is where to start looking for information and bibliography about individual sites and their relation to other sites."--Classical World

"A readable and stimulating synthesis."--International History Review

"Has original ideas which no student of the Roman Empire can neglect."--Classical Review

"Immensely impressive."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Praise for the first edition: "Magnificent....Students ignore it at their peril."--Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Benjamin Isaac is at University of Tel Aviv.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TammyJo Eckhart VINE VOICE on October 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Benjamin Isaac's work is very important for ancient historians who are studying how Rome maintained its empire in the East. Unlike simiplistic models that claim it was the might of the Emperor or the brutality of the army, this book looks at the interactions of the local people, the idea of the Emperor, the legal and social codes of the Empire and the realities of military occupation of a region. Certainly more current research will answer some of the questions I had while reading this book but Isaac's approach was unique in the early 1990s and it was an eye opener. It is not for anyone without a basic understanding of Greek or Latin and an advanced grasp of the ancient world during the Roman Empire. In order to best use this book, you must be a historian, an ancient historian.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arch Stanton on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. It is largely written to counteract the view of certain military historians (specifically Edward Luttwak and his The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire) who view the emperors as following a planned strategy for expansion and defense. Isaac views the entire policy of expansion as being completely ad hoc as various emperors invaded different regions for an often indecipherable mix of ambitions and pride. His way of refuting this is to go back to the original sources and sites and see whether the evidence supports the conclusions or not. As should be expected given the vastly overreaching thesis of Luttwak the evidence simply doesn't support (and in many case completely contradicts) his conclusions. Essentially he tears down Luttwak's ideas and leaves it to others to explain them.

Which isn't to say that he completely avoids building any new ideas. He views the purpose of army fortresses as being primarily for controlling the populations rather than defending the borders. Most of the data comes from Israel, where the author lives, with a substantial amount of data from the neighboring provinces, where the author was unable to visit due to his Israeli heritage. Coming from the province in the empire with the greatest amount of internal strife (and therefore the greatest use of soldiers for police actions) it isn't necessarily surprising that he should come to this conclusion. It is in fact very similar to the way the Israeli army sets up bases in occupied Palestine in order to monitor and control the population. Whether that gives him a unique insight into the situation or colors his conclusions is for the reader to decide.
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