Customer Reviews: Legions of Rome: The Definitive History of Every Imperial Roman Legion
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on June 19, 2011
This is a massive study of the Roman Legions. The author covers all aspects, enlistment,pay, training, officers, organization, training, camp life etc. He then goes on to describe the history of each legion, and also the Praetorian Guard, the Equites Singularies etc.. The author is not afraid to take on theories long held by many historians on Legionary origins, such as Mommsen's opinion that Legion 10 Fretensis is not Caesar's famous 10th Legion, the author believes Mommsen is wrong and that it is indeed Caesar's 10th. He also has what is sure to be controversial ideas on Legionary shield emblems, that certainly don't match ideas long held by other historians. Ditto Trajan's Column, the author belives that historians have been mislead by what is on the column as to shield emblems and other aspects of Legion equipment. The last part of the book is an in depth study of the battles that the Legions took part in, it is an excellent military history of the Roman Legions. The book is excellent, and will surely spark a new look at the Roman Legions by historians.
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on July 26, 2011
I purchased this book expecting to increase my knowledge base. Unfortunately, with the exception of the brief sketches for each Legion's basic history I was somewhat disappointed.

While the author makes several interesting statements, such as one indicating that the Legions transitioned from leather to canvas tents, there are generally no foot notes for the source, which can be frustrating.

There are also some areas wherein the author appears to have made minor mistakes in the equipment and nomenclatures of Legionary weapons and armor. (Not adding to the shield blazon issue already discussed in previous reviews.)

I will agree however, if you are new to the subject, this is a SUPERB BASIC START, as long as it is followed by further reading on the subject by authors such as Keppie, Le Bohec, Goldsworthy, Webster, Watson, and even Parker.

So overall, I would say a three star book, especially in a subject area which is seeing and has seen much more work in the last decade or so due to a resurgence of interest in "things Roman".

GySgt Red MIllis USMC (ret) Curator, Marine Corps Legacy Museum
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on July 8, 2012
From the title onward the author speaks in terms of being the definitive story of the Legions. The history, titles, shields and other aspects of each Legion are gone into. But, many of these pronouncements are ground breaking, contrary to the majority of similar books and authors and yet without footnoting. Where does this information come from? Why are we to believe these conclusions?

When there are supportive references to the text they either appear as a photo or in the text. Many of these are 'spot on' and support the author 100%. It is that fact which makes the vast majority of the books conclusions suspect when they have no sculptural, archaeological, written or other reference.

In the often heated argument about the color of the Roman Soldier's battle uniform there is, thankfully, one text reference. But there are entire thesis out there in contradiction and while I agree with the author here, he has done little more than advance his unsupported opinion to advance our cause.

The same may be said for shield patterns. He has advanced full shield descriptions for all the legions in the book but spends almost no time explaining why his conclusions are so vastly different from the mainstream. Oh, I admit I have only 2 bookshelves on the Romans and their army, but almost 100% of them are contradicted by this book insofar as shields go.

Heretofore there were 1 or 2 shield patterns which were acknowledged as being identified with a particular legion. This book shows us ALL of those and states them to be definitive. I wish that more than a couple of them had photo or text support. I want to believe the author but he has not given me the tools to carry his arguments forth in discussions with others.
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on August 19, 2011
This is an essential for anyone who reads a lot of Roman history.
You need the grand, sometime questionable, pronouncements of the contemporary historians of the period.
You need the essential big-idea interpreters such as Goldsworthy and Heather.
And you need this. Because even if you're not a military historian (or maybe especially if you're not), this will answer questions. I'm sure some will criticize him for listing everything so easily and logically that you can go to just what you're looking for an find what you need. Not me. Puts a smile on my face. It's also a very good read. I'm always suspicious -- and shouldn't I be? -- of the historians who meticulously avoid the drama which probably brought them to the subject. Substance without soul isn't an improvement I'd recognize. And luckily, that's not what I got when I bought the book.
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on March 22, 2011
Excellent book with detailed information about all the legions of Rome. When they were founded, when they disappeared, what were their accomplishments and much, much more.

It reads very easily, as all the books of Collins do.

A must have for everybody seriously interested in the Roman army.

I have only one criticism: I can't be thrilled by the legions emblems on the shields. What is published in the book is definitely fantasy. I wouldn't mind it too much if the shield were published in black-and-white only, but exactly the same shields are printed in full color as well. That may create the impression those fantasy shields were real.
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on October 7, 2011
I always wanted to know the history of the legions of ancient Rome. This book is good in detail and answers many questions a history buff would want to know. A good purchase and as always the delivery was fast and sufficient. Thank you
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on March 1, 2014
This is a very detailed book in Roman history. I only gave it 3 stars because I happen to come across a Spanish or Italian version of this book which has 1184 pages, this English version has only 608 pages. However, number of pages can be deceiving — especially when you have a softcover version, but not in this case. To prove that this English version is incomplete, I search for Alesia. The Battle of Alesia is a very well-known battle fought by Julius Caesar and the 10th Legion. This English version does not have any record of this. Unfortunate. Wait for the complete version before you buy.
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on January 31, 2012
This book details each Roman Legion in history and describes the legions history, standards and stations and famous exploits. The history of each legion could have been detailed more but the book is a great reference guide. Well worth the money.
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on February 26, 2015
Solid research that credibly debunks some of the myths and conclusions reached by other historians, and great penmanship that makes this large opus on the legions of Rome very enjoyable to read despite its length. The author first describes the creation, structure and evolution of the legions, then provides insightful summaries of the history of some of the better known legions, from their creation to their destruction. In the last section of the book, his description of specific campaigns and battles turns into an overview of the decline and fall of Rome through the eyes of its generals and their constant clashes for power, showing the progressive erosion of legion power through civil war attrition and the repeated tidal onslaughts of Eurasian barbarians and Middle Eastern foes.
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on December 26, 2012
Dando-Collins presents a thorough, complete and fascinating description of the Roman legions and their individual deployments, composition, and date of establishment. The information presented even includes the designs on their shields. This is the first time I've ever seen this done in anything like so thorough a fashion, and I find it intriguing. This is, in fact, the book on the legions I've been waiting for for many years.
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