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The Battle That Stopped Rome

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  264 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
In AD 9, a barbarian army trapped & slaughtered three legions: 20,000 men, half the Roman army in Europe. If not for this, the Empire would've expanded to the Elbe, maybe eastward into present-day Russia. After the defeat, Rome ended efforts to expand past the Rhine. It became a fixed border between Rome & Germania for 400 years & remains a cultural border betw ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 4th 2003 by W.W. Norton & Company (London/NYC) (first published 2003)
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Oct 08, 2013 11 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I luurve me some Roman history, but oddly, one of my favorite Roman history books is this one, in which three entire Roman legions (i.e. about 20,000 men) get their asses handed to them by Germanic guerilla forces. For all their chest-puffed-out militaristic grandstanding, Rome's finest warriors were about as formidable as a collection of delicate porcelain figurines in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest (9 A.D.). History buffs can still visit the site of the fighting, where artifacts from the confl ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 12, 2013 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: antiquity/ancient warfare fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I found this book at a the Amarynth Bookstore on Davis in Evanston while looking for birthday gifts for my brother and niece. Having read in the journal Ancient World that the location of the battle of Teutoberg had recently been discovered, and given the importance of that event, I made the purchase.

In fact, the battlesite was first identified in the eighties and the author, an archeologist at the University of Minnesota specializing in the European cultures of the period, participated in more
Feb 22, 2015 Radiah rated it liked it
Not being very knowledgeable about Roman history, I was a little apprehensive starting out, thinking more or less that I would have a difficult time catching up on Roman events. However, this book is written with people like me in mind. My Roman history background is limited the existence of the 2 Roman empires; East and West, the persecution of the early Christians and the relationship of Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony with Cleopatra. This book fills up some of the holes in my knowledge about R ...more
Sep 03, 2009 Brett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Battle That Stopped Rome is a mixed bag but overall succeeds in the author's intent of writing a historical (if often speculative) account of a battle over two thousand years ago in a way easily accessible to the non-academic world. Drawing on classical sources such as Tacitus and Cassius Dio as well archeology of the battlesite, Wells crafts a gripping narrative of desperate close quarters fighting that does an admirable job of capturing the terror and destruction of fighting in an age of s ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Tyler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at the University book store just prior to a trip to Germany and it caught my attention. After numerous shelvings, I have now just finished it after about 6 years.

This book probably has more teeth as an academic paper than it does as riveting historical narrative. There are a few assertions in the book - like the fact that the German tribes east of the Rhine became more militaristic following Rome's conquest of Gaul, as evidenced by weapons burials - that are repeated no less
Mar 29, 2010 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes even exciting historical events can be dry and boring to read about but Wells puts this together in an interesting and unique way. He uses written accounts from Roman historians and archaeological evidence. He pieces it together in a chapter by chapter way dealing with events that led up to the slaughter of the Roman legions, the battle itself, and what went on after the fact. One of the better straight history books I've read lately.
Jul 19, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter S. Wells gives a thorough account of an event known in German mythology but not properly understood previously to students of Roman history. It involves the march of three hardened Roman legions into the wilds of the Teutoberg Forest in Germany by their commander, Publius Quinctilius Varus, and its complete destruction by native forces led by Arminius in AD9. The battle which cost the lives of almost eighteen thousand Roman soldiers had been mentioned by chroniclers, especially Tacitus. We ...more
The Battle that Stopped Rome? Tell THAT to Caratacus!: One fact is certain: nine years after the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire was halted in its eastward expansion in northern Europe when the Germans destroyed three legions in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

Little else is certain. Wells gives a masterful account of the events surrounding this resounding defeat, and suggests it is reason the culture of Europe differs sharply on the east and west sides of the Rhine. About 1,400 years later, t

The Goodreads rating system makes these two stars look harsher than it is intended, but I cannot say I 'liked' (3 stars) this book; it was OK.

First the positives: Peter Wells has done a good job of collecting and summarizing the information currently known to historians and archaeologists about the Roman expeditions across the Rhine river into central Europe in the roughly half a century after the exploits of Julius Caesar in Gaul. The battle referenced in the title is, of course, the Battle of
Jun 21, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Wells seeks to illuminate a dark moment in the history of the Roman Empire, the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, where three entire Legions were destroyed by German tribesmen. How the soldiers of the world's (then) mightiest empire were wiped out is an question the author tries to answer with archeological evidence in lieu of minimal and dubious written accounts. The resulting account presented is compelling, though burdened with excessive detail. Is it really necessary to explain that a spear ...more
A rather slim book that still feels like it had quite a lot of padding. When it dealt with the archaeological and historical evidence for this important battle it was quite interesting and enjoyable to read, written by someone who knows his stuff.

The problem for me was that there was quite a lot of both repetitions and information that adds nothing to the understanding of the battle and the events leading up to the event (for example, do we really need to know what the people in Rome ate or tha
Jan 02, 2013 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Battle that Stopped Rome" Peter Wells tells the story of the Battle of Teutoburg Wald in AD9. In that battle Germanic tribes ambushed and destroyed 3 entire Roman Legions, perhaps 20,000 people and 10% of the entire Roman Army. The Roman Empire shortly thereafter changed its strategy and stopped attempting to absorb areas east of the Rhine River.

A good historian is a story teller. Peter wells demonstrates this talent in his book. Wells is upfront about the various historic sources that are
Sep 17, 2012 Willis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a relative quick read about a battle where German tribes defeated 3 legions of the Roman army. It was a pivotal battle in 9 AD in that the Rhine river became the dividing line between the Roman empire and the Germanic tribes. If the Romans had not been ambushed, then it is most likely that Germany would have not been a country or it would be much smaller than it is now. The event is interesting, but like many events of that time period, there is not much to go off of. The author is an a ...more
Dan Vine
This is an interesting book that has been very poorly edited. The subject matter is fascinating and this is presented clearly and in a generally engaging manner but there is a lot of repetition and references back and forward. This makes it a less than pleasant read.
Sarah's Book Nook
May 28, 2015 Sarah's Book Nook rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-rome
Normally I'm bored to tears when it comes to books about the Roman military, though I definitely enjoy the daily life aspects. Still, this was an informative read about a incredibly important battle that few people actually know about. There were a few overlapping sections that became repetitive, but overall it was an easy read. Though there's not a whole lot of information about this battle, Wells' does a decent job with what he has to work with. He provides background information in the years ...more
This was a short read about an important battle between a legion of the Roman empire and German barbarians. I'm really interested in this type of thing. Unfortunately, there aren't that many firsthand or even secondhand accounts (that still exist) of the battle. Obviously, the Roman empire would not want to dwell too much on what was for them a disastrous defeat. There are a lot of more recent archeological discoveries which add to what we now know about the battle. I sort of felt that the book ...more
Nov 25, 2008 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History enthusiasts w/ concentration being Roman culture
The book is very well written and will keep your attention the whole way through. Often, when authors have to be specific to all the events that lead up to the climax of the situation being presented they lose themselves and the reader in the details. This book provides great knowledge as well as archeological proof as to specific locations that the battle took place.

I would, however, remind you that this is not the battle that stopped or ended Rome, like the title suggests. It was, without a do
Nov 13, 2014 Lon rated it liked it
Finally I understand what happened. The author does a great job of laying out the evidence and story.
Apr 17, 2010 Dr. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
I cant say I was entertained at all. Sure it's a fascinating battle that had fascinating results and that does come throught but overall this was REAL boring. It seems like the author had to try really hard to make this book as big as it was (It's not that big) so you are always having to hear WAY to much detail about how many coins or bowls or pots they found at this or that archeolgical site. While some folks might find that aspect supewr interesting I would personally rather have more musing ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Trisha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting--not too tedious. Knew nothing about that battle.
Jul 17, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the tale of 9 A.D. of the loss of three Roman Legions to German warriors. It did indeed mark the end of the expansion of the Roman Empire. And the battle was a bloody one. My first problem is that the book is skimpy on details, and then makes huge assumptions. Yet, it is a critical time to us today: why we speak English and not a Romance Language (althugh the Romans were in Britain but made insignificant impact.) Yet, a fascinating read.
Jan 26, 2009 Bryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The Battle that Stopped Rome focus is on a single battle between German barbarians and Rome. This battle was a crushing defeat for Rome. The book gives insight into the two groups’ militaries, cultures, and influences. The best part of the book are the what if questions. Asking the question how would Eastern Europe be different without this one event.
Kat Davis
Jul 21, 2012 Kat Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, it had just the right balance of academic and narrative for me. I was intrigued by the notion of what could have been if the Romans had crossed the Elbe. If they had, we may very well have had a completely different European history. It is a fascinating notion.I fully recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Roman and European history.
John Mccullough
Jul 23, 2013 John Mccullough rated it really liked it
An in-depth treatise on the Teutoburg victory/disaster that defined the limits of Roman power east of the Rhine. For gourmets, the line thus created is the wine/beer divide, with accompanying cuisines. An event over 2000 years ago still defines food habits, and more. The book is more for the advanced student but can be read with good value by beginners.
Based on archaeological finds of recent years, the author reconstructs the events of that fateful day. The outcome of this battle was a real jolt to the leaders of the Empire - a very traumatic reality check for the invincible (or so they thought)Roman military.

A fascinating read!

May 09, 2008 Seth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The arrogance of the romans was truly astonishing and this horrible slaughter had the positive effect of bringing the empire's seemingly endless expansion to an abrupt stop.
Jeremy Balling
Mar 10, 2008 Jeremy Balling rated it really liked it
even though I hate reading anything that has to do with rome losing a battle this book was excellent.. Fucking Varrus is a retard general
Feb 23, 2009 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why Franch and German are such different languages. Why Rome did not cross the Rhine. Great discussion of a great battle.
a fine account. well written and compelling. who doesnt love to read about roman legions being crushed by "barbarians"?!
Nov 03, 2008 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wells has a habit of repeating himself throughout the book. Nice research though. V
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