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The Mycenaeans c.1650–1100 BC (Elite) Paperback – September 10, 2005
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I nearly didn't buy this work due to the other reviews of the art. Fortunately, I gambled on this one. While I agree that the illustrations are somewhat *different* stylistically than Angus McBride's normal work, I've also noticed quite a bit of variation in his style in other works. If one wants a lot of color and sharp delineation and detail, then this will not be one of your favorites. On the other hand, if you are weary of boyish faces and stocky statures of the characters in some other McBride works then you might appreciate the change of pace in these plates. Regardless of the artistic impression, the plates serve well their functional purpose of illustrating the Mycenaean soldiers in action.
The text, however, and the black-and-white illustrations are up to Osprey's usual fine standards. A brief historical section is followed by sections detailing army weapons, tactics, and organization, of great benefit to the wargamer and the casual military historian. Mr. Grguric does an especially fine job explaining the role of the light infantry swordsman on the battlefield, showing the effective role he played in countering the shield-armed heavy infantry, a revelation to those whose thinking is dominated by the image of the hoplite armies of Classical and Hellenistic Greece.
The book minus the color plates would definitely rate five stars; the plates, however, are so poor that they are a detriment to the overall appeal of the book. Possibly a future edition could include plates that are more in keeping with Angus McBride's normal high standard, making them a better fit for the quality of the book as a whole.
The text, on the other hand, contained an awful lot of information and insights into Mycenaean warfare that were wholly new to me; in this respect I rate the book quite highly. This is especially important in light of how little information exists on this subject.
Overall, I am glad I bought the book, but still find the graphics were a big letdown. If you are interested in this subject, by all means get this book. The information contained herein is very useful indeed. Through Amazon the price is good, as well. Just be prepared for some disappointment.
Final point, and not a criticism, but after a 23-year Army career in Infantry and Special Forces, I remain extremely skeptical about the Dendra cuirass. I have seen it...I was U.S. Consul in Greece for three years...and my first thought was that no intelligent soldier (and I believe the Mycenaeans were intelligent soldiers) could possibly have willing worn that thing in combat! It is, to me, like getting into a 55-gallon drum with holes for the arms and half of the head. I have seen, actually worn, fully articulated medieval armor, and although not comfortable, one can move around with some ease and agility. I just don't see how this could be accomplished in the Dendra thing. Especially while humping one of those massive shields! Even if the cuirass were waist-length, possibly. But taking into consideration that the average male then was about the size of a modern American 9th grader, the Dendra would extend about to the wearer's knees. Impossible, imo! Must have been made as an experiment or even as a joke.