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A 2200 Year Old Historical Odyssey
on April 2, 2005
After reading David Anthony Durham's vivid novel "Pride of Carthage", a good follow-up for the reader interested in learning more about Hannibal and the Second Punic War is John Prevas' "Hannibal Crosses the Alps". Prevas has made the journey himself many times, so he is able to give accurate site reports of the various routes Hannibal is speculated to have taken over the Alps. Hannibal traveled with an army of tens of thousands of soldiers and as many as 37 war elephants. As Prevas makes his case for a crossing at Col de la Traversette, the reader is held in awe of Hannibal's tenacity and daring.
"Hannibal Crosses the Alps" is just the right size for the reader looking for a good snapshot of the Second Punic War: the book is not too short, but neither does it drown in detail. There is a good chronology in the front, some maps and photos, an extensive bibliography, and an index. More remarkable, though, is Prevas' case for Hannibal's route. The actual route has been lost to history, but Prevas has hiked though the region, and he painstakingly compares the natural features he observed to those recorded in Polybius and Livy. His conclusions are hard to refute, and baring future archeological finds, I believe his conclusions are very sound. His book will also help the reader of Durham's novel fit what is known into Durham's fictional account.