Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
... of a mixed bag - I had read and enjoyed Gabriel's work on Scipio
on January 8, 2015
Unfortunatly this seems to be a bit of a mixed bag - I had read and enjoyed Gabriel's work on Scipio, so decided to try this to complement it. There is some to admire in this book, but sadly, there is also a lot that drags his work down. He contradicts himself on several occasions (particularly in his use of John Lazenby in regards to Hannibal's continued victories in Italy after Cannae - he uses Lazenby's work almost word for word, but when he comes to the battles themselves later, simply presents Livy's exaggerated Roman victories - without even referring to what he'd written earlier following Lazenby... he doesn't even try to analyse the differences, or present why Lazenby came to the conclusions he did... he also misses out small successes of Hannibal - at Geronium for example, and on his withdrawal from Rome when he savaged the Rome camp at night before marching back...) It's annoying as there is also quite a lot of good stuff in here that I haven't found in other books on the subject (and I've read a lot - close to thirty!) refuting Delbruck's claims on the nature of Roman defenses and Hannibal's chances of a successful siege, presenting an intriguing case for why Hannibal didn't attack Rome after Lake Trasimene, being that he had a relatively healthy army, access to rich plains to support it, and being only 80 miles from Rome, he also considers the logistical side of warfare. This book would have easily hit a four had he not been so sloppy/lazy/contradictory in regards to Hannibal's campaigns and battles in Italy where he doesn't present any argument for the reported Roman victories over Hannibal's forces (where Hannibal kept losing the number of 8,000 men in every battle which looks more like a routed army casualty figures, I'm stunned he can go on to say Hannibal actually had a large force against Scipio's in Locri considering he must have lost something like 20,000 men in the last 2 years of campaigning in Italy if we go by Livy's figures, I'm surprised he had any men left to scare off the Romans (who were afraid to attack him after the Metaraus - according to the last few years, Hannibal was a joke of a commander, losing every battle and thousands of men, why be afraid of a general like that?)... then he goes on to say Scipio killed 60,000 at the battle of Illipa with a straight face(a ridiculous claim)... there just doesn't seem to be much analysis of these exaggerated figures)... his ending analysis of Hannibal is pretty damning, and we do need to be critical and neutral, but Gabriel makes lots of assumptions (many based on dubious speeches and even Silius Italicus' poem Punica!) which makes his conclusion of Hannibal's generalship incredibly flawed. It's a pity, because underneath his lazy approach, there's actually quite a few interesting ideas/interpretations going on.