Bonnie_blu's Reviews > Rome and the Sword

Rome and the Sword by Simon    James
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's review
Mar 14, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: ancient_rome

This is one of the best books about ancient Roman history that I have read, and I've read hundreds. James explores the development of Rome by focusing on soldiers and their weaponry, especially the gladius (the legionary sword). He expertly details how the transition from a seasonal army made up of citizens to a standing professional army both reflected social conditions and influenced them. Roman soldiers (Romans did not have a word for "military") were the "stick" that stood ready to enforce the will of autocrats and aristocrats. The "carrot" was Rome's willingness to welcome conquered peoples into the Republic and the Empire as participants in the rewards of being part of a strong, profitable state. James also examines the complex relationship between legionaries and their commanders. In addition, he shows how Rome's enemies helped shape Roman development and actually made it possible for her to dominate the Mediterranean. This is a totally fascinating work that is written in an easy-to-understand manner, and that fully engages the reader. I highly recommend it.

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