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The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Paperback – April 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Adrian Goldsworthy is one of our most promising young military historians today

About the Author

Adrian Goldsworthy has a doctorate from Oxford University. His first book, THE ROMAN ARMY AT WAR was recognised by John Keegan as an exceptionally impressive work, original in treatment and impressive in style. He has gone on to write several other books, including THE FALL OF THE WEST, CAESAR, IN THE NAME OF ROME, CANNAE and ROMAN WARFARE, which have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages. A full-time author, he regularly contributes to TV documentaries on Roman themes.

Visit www.adriangoldsworthy.com for more information.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cassell Military Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366422
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Keymer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Military history has been slighted in recent years, with the possible exception of John Keegan's insightful books. In part it is because focusing on the role of the military runs counter to the modern bias that social currents determine the nature of wars and not wars the direction of the times. We also embrace a moralistic tendency to believe that violence never really solves anything. But violence has solved many things even in modern times and until we stop resorting to war to resolve inter-state conflicts, the study of war is --or should be-- of importance to us.

Goldsworthy has written a solidly researched, lively (well --fairly lively) and measured history of the Punic Wars (265-146 BC). The three wars encompassed a theater of operations that spanned the south of Europe (Spain, Italy), the Mediterranean Sea (Sicily) and northern Africa, and took more than a century to complete. The wars were the formative conflict of the Roman Republic.

Goldsworthy argues convincingly that Rome eventually destroyed Carthage for four reasons: (1) unlike other ancient states, Rome refused to concede defeat, no matter how badly or frequently its troops were beaten in battle; (2) the Romans excelled in learning from enemies, borrowing their tactics to defeat them; (3) Rome's allies remained true to Rome, regardless of defeat or victory, more often than was true of Carthage's allies; and (4) Rome possessed resources well beyond those of Carthage, both in men and goods, which made it possible for Rome to fight a multi-decade war regardless of the cost.

This is a substantial book, accessible to novice as well as professional. Alas, the days are gone when one could count on school children knowing of the conflict between Carthage and Rome because they'd read about it in their Latin classes, but the story is still well worth telling.

David Keymer

Modesto CA
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Definitely a great read. Despite the fallacious pitch on the back "The cast of endlessly fascinating characters includes the generals Hannibal and Scipio, as well as treacherous chieftains, beautiful princesses, scheming politicians, and tough professional warriors.", a great and entertaining read. Almost reads like a novel, while still solidly argumented and avoiding the easy melodrama.

Battles of the Antiquity are depicted in detail, consideing logistics and actual hand-to-hand fighting.

Also an analysis that goes beyond the facts to understand social and political conditions. Sources are compared, decisions are dicussed, plausible explanations are proposed, but the author always manages not to appear as the pedant know-it-all but as a modern teacher who challenges the reader, and offers various reasons for enigmatic political or strategic decisions.

A highly entertaining and intellectually refreshing read, thank you Mr Goldsworthy. I will investigate your other books.
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Format: Paperback
For anyone who has tried to trudge through Livy's account of the Hannibalian War, Goldsworthy's (AG's) book is extremely helpful.
The ancient historians can be borderline-reliable. AG mentions frequently that timelines or characters are convoluted. He acts as a moderator between the ancient accounts, and giving his own best guess of events. This book is quite readable to amateur Greco-Roman historians like me, and the fact that much is lost from that period gives the whole subject a whiff of mystery.
The first chapter on warfare and politics (they are, of course, mutually inclusive) in the ancient world is valuable. Most striking is the tediousness of preparing for battle: you'll never see this in "Gladiator" or "Troy". These are people and times so profoundly different than ours.
So, if you're in between books about the Greatest Generation, try reading about the generation that lived through Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae, and Zama.
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Format: Paperback
Adrian Goldsworthy provides an entertaining and accessible account of the Punic Wars, which those with no classical education should find an interesting read. Goldsworthy himself points out the fact that the British education system would have rendered this account unnecessary fifty years ago, but the decline of Latin as a school subject has left a generation (at least) unfamiliar with this long conflict.

Goldsworthy attempts to identify the facts of the battles as distinct from the conjecture, and is at pains to point out the limits of knowledge today (even with the benefits of archaeology to help lift some of the uncertainty). He also makes it clear that we must regard the sources as being tainted from the victor's perspective - for of course no Punic accounts of the conflicts survive. He uses general knowledge of the period to explain the context in which the wars were taking place, and how the changes in technology led to changes in the way in which war was being carried out.

This well-rounded account is supplemented with maps of the several of the battles, facilitating comprehension. However, there are no diagrams or pictures of other aspects of the time (a reproduction of a Trireme, for instance would have been a useful supplement to the lengthy descriptions of the text). This omission aside, the book is a good general read, going beyond a simple recitation of events, which serves to put the wars in an appropriate context.
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