The Limes – Relics of an Empire

Many people have heard of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK and same have even heard of the Antonine Wall a little farther north.  What many people have never heard of or if they have heard of do not know where they are located are the Roman Limes(pronounced leem-ez) that stretched around the entire periphery of the ancient Roman Empire.  In many places the Limes ran along rivers or inaccessible mountains but in places where this was not possible the Romans built and garrisoned physical fortifications to mark the extent of their territory and prevent outside invaders from getting in an attacking or raiding within Roman territory. Because my wife and … More after the Jump…

The Battlefield of Cannae: a Site Visit

The Battlefield of Cannae: a Site Visit The Battle of Cannae in 212 B.C. is perhaps the platonic ideal of what a decisive victory should look like.  Western commanders have been trying to replicate it since it happened over two millennia ago.  It was the final in a series of crushing defeats suffered by the Romans in the second Punic War to Hannibal Barca the other two being the Battles of Trebia and Lake Trasimene; one day I will visit these sights as well.  I covered the battle in a post almost exactly five years ago here: http://www.military-history.us/2010/10/rome-and-cannae/.  This past summer while on vacation in Italy I finally got around … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Medieval Fortress by J.E. & H.W. Kaufmann

The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, And Walled Cities Of The Middle Ages is a good study of the art and methods of fortifications and castles built in Eastern and Western Europe during the Middle Ages from the fall of Rome to the early modern period. The book is right around 300 pages long and includes many illustrations.  It also includes a glossary, which is very helpful to those that are not familiar with the technical terms for elements of castles and fortifications. It is separated into 5 chapters, the first deals with the elements of fortification, the next three are chronological about the development of castles and the final chapter covers … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe: An Illustrated History by Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage

Castles and Fortified Cities of Medieval Europe: An Illustrated History is a very interesting book.  I picked it up because we had a three hour bus ride to get to my son’s football game and my wife was using my Kindle.  I am certainly glad I did. This is a well written 330 page book.  It includes an index and bibliography, both unfortunately short.  The book is organized chronologically in five chapters covering fortification and castles from the 5th to the 16th century A.D.  Each chapter is further subdivided geographically and covers both eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East. There are many illustrations, both ground plans and sketches that help to illuminate the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Anatomy of the Castle by John Gibson

Anatomy of the Castle by John Gibson is perhaps the best book describing Castles aimed at the general reader that I have ever read.  The author manages to make the somewhat technical and dry language of describing castles and their construction lovely and entertaining. It is a coffee table sized book that is jam packed with beautiful color photos of castles from all over Europe and the Middle East.  There are 200 pages with a glossary, index, and bibliography.  It is divided into 6 chronological chapters with a lengthy introduction that describes the development of the art of fortification up to the development of the first castles.  He also includes a chapter describing what living in a castle must have truly been like.  The glossary is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Holy Wars: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land by Gary Rashba

HOLY WARS: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land is one of the better primers about conflict in the Holy Land to appear within the last few years.   It consists of 17 chapters covering the initial Israelite conquest of Canaan in 1400 B.C. to the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 1982.   The more recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict is covered in the epilogue.   The work is 288 pages and includes extensive notes at the end of each chapter as well as a well sourced bibliography and index.   The Kindle edition, which is what I have, was mostly free of editing errors and the only … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror by Bill Yenne

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I am someone who loves the ancients and loves reading the their stories. That being said, I am much more likely to read Caesar’s Commentaries or Plutarch’s Life of Caesar than a modern day biography derived from those sources. In fact, I have read all those ancient works, most in both English and the original Latin. This book was a pleasure to read anyway.   Bill Yenne has put together a comprehensive account of Caesar’s life that someone unfamiliar with Caesar’s exploits … More after the Jump…

The Battle of Zama – 202 B.C.

The Battle of Zama, fought in 202 B.C., was the culminating battle of the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. The short story of the battle is that a Roman army under Scipio met and destroyed the Carthaginian Army under Hannibal. The defeat forced the Carthaginian Senate to sue for peace and ended the war. What makes the battle interesting from my perspective is that the Roman army was outnumbered and on the offensive and still won. This is not typically what happens in warfare, especially in warfare in antiquity when numbers made a rather large difference in melee combat. One thing that makes Zama stand out is the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Roman Army at War: 100 BC – AD 200 by Adrian Keith Goldsworthy

  I thought this book would be more than it turned out to be, unfortunately, I was mistaken. The author states in the forward that it is an expansion of his doctoral dissertation and it is obvious throughout that this is indeed the case. Neither that or my disappointment make this a book not worth reading though, it is in fact worth reading. The first chapter alone makes it well worth the purchase price. Dr. Goldsworthy has produced perhaps the best, and most concise description of the organization and structure of the roman army outside of Vegetius or Polybius that I have found. The book is divided into six sections … More after the Jump…