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Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415486804
ISBN-10: 0415486807
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Editorial Reviews

Review

..."this is a valuable work on the appearance of effective cavalry and its brief domination of the battlefields of the Near East between the eighth and sixth centuries BC."
-Ross H. Cowan, "BMCR
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert Drews is Professor of Classics and History at Vanderbilt University, where he has taught since 1961. One of his interests is the military history of the Near Eastern and Greek world during the Bronze Age, and his publications on that subject include Coming of the Greeks and The End of the Bronze Age.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (September 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415486807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415486804
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.5 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,972,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Another excellent book from Prof. Robert Drews. As with "Coming of the Greeks", and "End of the Bronze Age", Prof.Drews focuses his careful research and rational arguments on an interesting topic on which there is a lack of consensus.

The focus of the book is to examine the history of the use of horses for warfare. Prof.Drews challenges, and indeed does a good job demolishing, the traditional view held by many, that the peoples of the steppes of Central Asia have been great horsemen and mounted warriors (especially mounted archers) since the Bronze Age or even the Neolithic Age. Prof.Drews demonstrates that no such evidence exists, and that rather all evidence points to good riding dating back to no earlier than the early Iron Age (around 1,000 bc or so). He concedes that men no doubt did some awkward riding for centuries before, as pictorial/statue representations from the Near East demonstrate, but that only in the Iron Age did men master riding well enough to be able to do active hunting and fighting with it.

Prior to that time, horses, specifically on the steppe, were mostly used for food or for chariot/cart-pulling (the latter also in the Near East).

As with his others books, Prof.Drews carefully goes through various counter-theories, and shows them to be unfounded in their assertions.

His arguments about the effectiveness of mounted warfare, of cavalry vs. infantry, may not be as soldid as his other points, and will seem so for anyone who knows about military history, but these are minor points, as the main focus of the book is the developement of mounted warefare, not its tactical uses in battle.

Prof.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Drews always writes well and it is a pleasure to watch a powerful mind working on a serious problem. Since he is working in pre-history the amount of interpretation necessarily is greater than the evidence. The book is basically a refutation of a version Marija Gimbutas’ Kurgan theory that the horse was domesticated on the Pontic steppe about 4000BC and the Indo-European languages were spread across Eurasia by mounted warriors. According to Drews horses were first domesticated for meat and only ridden by a few daredevils. The first depictions of horse riding date from about 2000BC. They use nose rings rather than bits, there are no saddles or other horse gear and the riding position is too clumsy to use a weapon. Cavalry, if it existed, was soon replaced by the more efficient chariot. The first definite evidence of mounted warfare appears with the Cimmerians about 700BC. He ends by suggesting that the earliest form of hoplite armament appeared in western Anatolia for defense against horsemen. Since Drews is defending a theory rather than surveying all opinions it is difficult to know what the counter-evidence is.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Empirical evidence gathered, hypothesis testing, sensible reasoning through the thickets of evidence & argument, useful conclusions, and all elegantly presented for both specialist and layman.
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I could not finish the book. It was written in a style that I really find annoying. There was a lot of good information that was quite interesting. However, nearly every paragraph had multiple references and footnotes. Many of the footnotes turned out to be references. None of the references are readily available to me. I dislike leaving a page to go to the back of the book to read the footnote because that loses context of the page being read. Not reading the footnote is not an option for me.
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