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Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,659 ratings  ·  214 reviews
An epic history of a doomed civilization and a lost empire.

The devastating struggle to the death between the Carthaginians and the Romans was one of the defining dramas of the ancient world. In an epic series of land and sea battles, both sides came close to victory before the Carthaginians finally succumbed and their capital city, history, and culture were almost utter
Hardcover, 521 pages
Published July 21st 2011 by Viking (first published August 28th 2008)
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,659 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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A very interesting view of a civilization which has, until just recently, been sparsely represented in non-Roman historical accounts.

This book takes a long look, starting with the history of the early Phoenicians and ending with the beginnings of Rome's empire, well after the final Punic war. Carthage's economic values, its religion (with a surprising incidence of human sacrifice, which is not wholly Roman propaganda), and the fragile structure of its society. There is also a natural focus on Ha
Ben Kane
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Until the publication of this excellent book, the preeminent text about Carthage was the 1995 volume Carthage: A History by the French historian Serge Lancel. This, an outstanding contribution to the patchy knowledge we have of Carthage, has just been eclipsed. One might think that part of the reason for this is that Carthage Must Be Destroyed did not need to be translated (inevitably, there were some places where Lancel's text became unwieldy). It's far from that: this is a better written, easi ...more
Catherine Berry
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Carthage has always been a background character in my personal narrative of history. I vaguely knew it had been there for a few hundred years when its wars with Rome started, I loved the story of Cato's "Delenda est" speeches in the Roman Senate, and as a fan of military history, I had read a few accounts of Hannibal's amazing victory at Cannae. I knew that Dido, mythic queen of Carthage, was a major character in Vergil's Aeneid. And that was pretty much the extent of it.

Beyond all that, I alway
Mark Shafranski
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Finished reading Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Whenever I read a history of a fallen empire, I am always sad at the end. Read a history of the fall of the Roman Empire last year, and I kept rooting for the Romans to pull it together. They didn’t. I felt very sad reading about the fall of Carthage. So unnecessary.

But I did learn a lot:

Carthage was a colony of Tyre, a Phoenician island city off the coast of Lebanon.

The Phoenicians were tremendous mariners and to a certain extent seede
I highly recommend Miles’ book for his reconstruction of Carthage’s history while trying to minimize the Romans' filter. For one example of this filter, even our terminology for the civilization and culture, Punic, comes with its own baggage since Romans used the term in a pejorative and disparaging context.

Miles spends time on the background and history of Phoenicia, showing how the expansion to Carthage and other areas in the west were motivated by surv
Loring Wirbel
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
There's usually a strict segmentation between an archaeologist writing about artifact digs, and a revisionist historian reviewing antique histories written by the winners. The few writers who have tried to synthesize such styles (Peter Wells' 'Barbarians to Angels,' for example) often succeed only in part because they favor one method over another. Miles gets the balance right, by being appropriately skeptical of the historical sources on Carthage, while still recognizing the value of preservin ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
The author is a great scholar and very knowledgeable about his subject. The book jacket indicates that he has even led archaeological digs in North Africa. Perhaps that is part of the problem. What I mean is that maybe those with a great love for archaeology should not write books like this one. The title promises grand, sweeping scope, and the author gives us none of it. He has an obvious love for the minute details. He employs his considerable talents in mining though religious inscriptions, d ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it
From our view point of history we can see that Carthage would be destroyed.
To the people of that time no one was knew which city would rule the Mediterranean - Carthage or Rome.

The sacred chickens drink
In 249 BC the Roman consul Publius Claudius Pulcher–a man variously described as being mentally unstable, an arrogant snob and a drunk–decided to launch an attack on the Carthaginian-held port of Drepana. The mission got off to a rocky start when the sacred chickens used to gauge divine favour wen
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Reading this book hammered in that old chestnut over and over again: "History is always written by the victors". Although in defense of Richard Miles, he does a fair job of trying his best to overcome it. Miles is British archeologist and historian from Cambridge, but now plies his trade at the University of Sydney.

Carthage Must Be Destroyed follows a fairly linear structure from the founding of the city by Tyrians from the Levant (legend has it was founded in 814 BCE), to it's eventual destruct
Robert Case
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Students of ancient history
Recommended to Robert by: A friend and author
Shelves: history
With meticulous attention to detail, author Richard Miles has produced a fascinating account of the history of the Carthaginian people, their rise to power and prominence throughout the Mediterranean, and their eventual downfall at the hands of neighboring Rome. The Roman political machine insisted that Carthage be pillaged and destroyed. To that end, Roman legions systematically destroyed the cities, farms, and homes. They went so far as to salt the land. Yet the story of the Carthaginians reso ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The exchange of luxury goods was at the heart of Bronze Age diplomacy between c3,300 BCE and c1,200 BCE. In order to engage in high level diplomacy, the powers of the Near East required access to the relevant materials and, while some were obtained locally, many could only come from a distance. The merchants making this possible acquired the status of representatives for their various rulers and the rulers of the coastal cities of Canaan (modern day Lebanon), known to the Greeks as the Phoenicia ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
There should be a special place in booklover's heaven for Richard Miles and other academics who write history, science or criticism that is based on wide and deep learning and is also accessible to the general reader (if such a being exists anymore) while not simplifying his subject too much.

Miles is an archeologist who seems to know the ancient documents concerning Carthage very well. There are no primary sources, only discussions of the Punic states by Roman authors, often based on anti-Carth
John Nelson
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
After Hannibal's devastating victory over the Romans at Cannae, the Roman Senator Cato the Elder took to ending every speech with the demand that "Carthage must be destroyed!" Carthage was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world, yet is known today primarily for its defeat and obliteration in the Punic Wars with Rome. This book provides a wealth of information about the founding of Carthage, its early history, and, of course, its end in the Punic wars. On the flip side, the author do ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
In my high school Latin class, we read some of the Catalinian speeches, in which a Roman Senator excoriated Carthage--ending many of his speeches with the phrase "Carthage must be destroyed." This book examines the conflicts between Rome and Carthage over the years.

One thing that surprised me was the relative dearth of concrete information about Carthage. The author does a nice job of creating a credible account of Carthaginian history and life. The use of literature (such as the story of Hercu
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great history of a rarely discussed civilization in ancient history. Only real drawback is the tediuous comparision between the Greco-Roman gods and the Punic-Carthaginian gods and their interplay throughout ancient history. I found it hard to follow at times and tended to skim to the more concrete history of the battles for Sicily and the Punic Wars. I definitely reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in Carthaginian history and the commonly held perceptions of the 'dreaded' Carthagini ...more
B. Ross Ashley
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good summation of what is known about QartHadasht/Carthage ... well-written, well-researched. It does tend to concentrate on the surface politico-military history, particularly during the climactic conflicts with Rome. I'd like to know more about what was going on in the City while Hannibal was waging war in Italy, for example, and more about the governmental evolution of the city's government. All in all it is good-to-excellent.
Tony Gualtieri
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
An good overview of Carthage and the Phoenician culture which gave rise to it. The writing is serviceable and the history is limited by the paucity of Punic sources. Thus, the book reads like a history of Roman responses to Carthagian actions. Nonetheless, this is likely the most we can hope for. The early chapters on Phoenicia are especially valuable.
Peter Bradley
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote -

I listened to this as an audiobook, which I found to be educational and entertaining.

The author presents Carthaginian history from its pre-existence in the Phoenician city of Tyre to its destruction by Rome to the creation of a Roman city of Carthage.

This is not the mainline of history. Normally, the mainline is Greece, Rome, Babylon, Peria and Assyria. The Carthaginian track runs from Phoenicia to Tyre to Sic
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
A well-read 14-hour audiobook, profound enough to engage the old coconut but well-expressed and clear enough that you can listen to it while driving to work.

It was especially interesting to listen to this book after reading a biography of Hannibal, the only Carthaginian today who is remembered by anyone other than scholars, because after Hannibal, things did not go at all well. If Carthage was the “Star Wars” series, the life of Hannibal would be “A New Hope”, after which “The Empire Strikes Bac
Steve Cran
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Carthage, once the ruling naval power of the Mediterranean, only to be reduced to dust and ashes after three long protracted conflicts with the Romans. Richard Mills does an excellent job of outlining and writing about the history of Carthage starting from the beginning going all the way even past the end of the cities existence.

The Carthaginians were originally Phoenicians, who originated from the city of Tyre. Assyrian domination and wars in that area forced the Queen Dido to leave Tyre and lo
Balls Montgomery
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I hate reading about the losers of history i.e. those who left not an identifiable mark for my sky-blue eyes for a once-twice-thrice through but rather suckled ever so sweetly to ankles of a champion. People are fascinated by losers, countless books are about how great those boy-loving 300 Spartans were because they all died like assholes. How about Hannibal? Oh he's won a few battles! But he's really just the plucky underdog going against the maaaaaaaaaan, that man was named Roman Republic and ...more
Max Wilson
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
History is written by the victors. Just as the people of the book would come to wash away the brilliant tapastry of parable, myth, ritual and identity found throughout the west and north, so too has the great Pheonetian civilization in north Africa: Carthage, are so clensed. But as with all the distruction of our more robust cultural inherentice by the Judeo-Christian singularity, we hardly even know what we've lost. In this book, Miles scours historical and archaeological evidence to scrape tog ...more
Rob Roy
Jul 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 24-ancient-rome
This book claims to uncover what Carthage was. There are lots of facts, lots of supposition, but Carthage as a city and a culture never comes into focus. You learn more about Rome, than her rival. Even the Carthaginian leaders are poorly developed. If you want to know more about Carthage, I would suggest Adrian Goldsworthy's The Punic Wars. I got through this book, but only because I am an inveterate history nut. Save yourself the pain and skip it.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Looks interesting.
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
History repeating itself
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Review of the Audiobook

Published in 2011 by Gildan Media, LLC.
Read by Grover Gardner.
Duration: 14 hours, 9 minutes.

Carthage has forever been relegated to the second fiddle of the Ancient Mediterranean world - the last power to offer the Roman Republic any sort of serious threat. The also-ran that could have been what Rome became...if only.

But, unlike Rome, no one seems to know much about Carthage except for that they were a sea power, they had battle elephants and Hannibal crossed t
Thomas Mellor
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read! Richard Miles does more than just take the reader through the the military history of the Punic wars. Using his and others' multi-layer archeological findings, writings of ancient historians (e.g. Plutarch), poets (e.g. Virgil), and historic leaders (e.g. Cato) he shows what life was like in the ancient world. He shows how religion, culture, family life and real world politics interacted between the Greeks and Romans and how, at the end the Carthaginians were able to influence wester ...more
May 01, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish
DNF at about 30% in the audiobook. Lots of info, but it's an endless barrage of chronological history and facts and recounting of myths and legends in audio format. Eventually it became white noise and I stopped caring. What it needed was a narrative framework beyond "Hey, maybe Rome fudged some stuff about this particular enemy."
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Doesn't shy away from Carthage's involvement in child sacrifice (which was worse than other Phoenicians). Interesting analysis of the effect of Carthage's destruction on the Roman Republic and empire.
Nathan Albright
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge-2018
Reading this book in many ways is like reading a Greek tragedy.  One knows from the title the end of the play, and if one is familiar at all with ancient history, one knows that Carthage is going to be set up to be a tough rival to Rome but an ultimately unsuccessful one.  And this book delivers exactly what one would expect from a narrative history written by a competent historian of the ancient world.  If this book is not spectacular, it is at least solid and written by someone who has some in ...more
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“Great Carthage drove three wars. After the first one it was still powerful. After the second one it was still inhabitable. After the third one it was no longer possible to find her.” 1 likes
“Hostile ancient Greek historiography and more modern prejudices have combined to create an image of the Carthaginians as aggressive and pernicious oriental interlopers whose one clear aim was to overrun an ancient world already imbued with Western civilization. This is particularly true in the case of Spain, where the Carthaginians have often been blamed for the demise of the old Tartessian kingdoms. Keen to promote the idea that Tartessus had been a great Western civilization –indeed an occidental Troy–some scholars have argued that ancient Andalusia was subjected to a brutal invasion by the Carthaginians in the late sixth century BC.64 These claims appear to be validated by much later Roman sources, who report that the Carthaginians had treacherously seized Gades after its hard-pressed citizens had begged them to provide help against hostile Spanish forces.” 1 likes
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