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The Punic Wars

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,161 ratings  ·  114 reviews
An impressive new historian of Roman warfare--highly praised by John Keegan--has written a thoroughly engrossing account of the greatest conflict of antiquity. It will grab the attention of military buffs and general readers alike. The struggle for supremacy between Rome and Carthage encompassed the First (264-241 B.C.) and Second (149-146 B.C.) Punic Wars; both sides suff ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S./U.K.), 412 pages
Published June 30th 2001 by Cassell & Co. Ltd./Orion Publishing Group (first published September 2000)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  2,161 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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This is about the Punic Wars (264BC –146BC) between Rome and Carthage. Much has been written about this epic ancient conflict. The result of the Punic Wars led to the ascendancy of Rome.

The book is well written and researched. Goldsworthy does write in an academic style of a historian, but is easily readable for a lay person like me. The author covers the three Punic Wars. (Punicus in Latin for Phoenician as Carthage was part of the old Phoenician Empire.) The book is strong on military history
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fall of Carthage is a very readable account of the three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. The Second War takes up most of the narrative, as it was the most dramatic and bloody episode, but the other episodes are also given their due according to their relevance. Sources are limited of course, and all from the Roman or sometimes Greek perspective, but overall this is a very accessible book on the conflict for supremacy in the ancient Western Mediterranean.

The Punic Wars and Ancient Hist
'Aussie Rick'
Carthage Must be Destroyed those most famous words were spoken by Marcus Porcius Cato in the 2nd Century BC. In this new book on the Punic Wars by Adrian Goldsworthy we are taken back into this most fascinating period of history. We follow in the steps of Hannibal, Hasdrubal, Hamilcar, Scipio Africanus and many more famous and infamous commanders and leaders as the Roman Legions and the soldiers and sailors of Carthage clash in this gigantic struggle of the Ancient World.

Each of the three wars a
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The study of history is dead. That may seem an odd assertion, given that I am reviewing a very good work of history, Adrian Goldsworthy’s "The Punic Wars." But books like this are read by a tiny audience—hard to say how big, but I would be shocked if more than ten thousand people had read this book, and it is by a known author. As far as I can tell, nearly nobody in public life, whether in politics, the media, popular entertainment, big business, or even most of the academic world, knows anythin ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-general
Reading The Punic Wars, I was reminded of Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn, which I had read just prior to this book. Both are largely straightforward and well written accounts of epochal wars and both have to do with campaigns in North Africa and Italy (if one were to stretch the comparison to include Atkinson’s Day of Battle, his account of the Allied invasion of Italy). The only reservation I have against the current book (at least the edition I read) is not one of content but of editing – the ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Goldsworthy wisely uses the Osprey technique of reviewing the opposing forces before he tackles the narrative of the Punic Wars. The First war and its unresolved consequences gets adequate coverage. The Second war inevitably forms the bulk, which is not a bad thing; the bibliography caters to the needs of every other focus of interest. Hannibal disappears into the background a year after Cannae, tough. The Third war comes off as a bit rushed.

Goldsworthy switches perspectives effortlessly. He ca
Paul  Perry
I had the urge to learn more about Carthage and its enmity with rome and, as a couple of people had recommended Adrian Goldsworthy to me, thought this would be a good place to start. I have to say that I was disappointed.

Goldsworthy says in the preface that he is a military historian, and it is largely this focus that failed for me; the author focuses on the battles themselves and, within them, on the minutiae of tactics and technologies that made the opposing sides feel like miniatures on a gam
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
-No está entre lo mejor del autor, pero desde la perspectiva de las formas.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Aproximación eminentemente militar al enfrentamiento entre la Antigua Roma y Cartago por ser la potencia dominante en el área mediterránea y estructurado de forma cronológica siguiendo el orden de las tres guerras púnicas.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Tudor Ciocarlie
The best book, fiction or non-fiction, about the Punic Wars.
-No está entre lo mejor del autor, pero desde la perspectiva de las formas.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Aproximación eminentemente militar al enfrentamiento entre la Antigua Roma y Cartago por ser la potencia dominante en el área mediterránea y estructurado de forma cronológica siguiendo el orden de las tres guerras púnicas.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Lauren Albert
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-ancient
I find military history tough going. This one wasn't bad and managed to keep me going to the end. I think someone who did like military history would like it more. Goldsworthy gave enough information about the cultures (as much as he could anyway with the lack of knowledge) and their attitudes towards war to give me a little bit more than just strategy and troop deployment.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
In 272 BCE the Roman Republic had conquered all of Italy south of the Po River and was undisputed ruler from the Straits of Messina to the hills of Tuscany. The consolidation took about 250 years and was actually the result of many wars fought and won by the Romans against other city-states. Eight years after the end of these wars the consul Appius Claudius Caudex led an army across the straits to Sicily—this marked the beginning of the Punic Wars. These three wars against Carthage spanned over ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
A clean, thorough political and military history of the Punic Wars.

Goldsworthy emphasizes the theme of how Rome’s and Carthage’s philosophies of war clashed, rather than just their empires. Goldsworthy ably describes the origins, course and aftermath of all three wars without getting bogged down in detail. The maps are useful and placed in the exact spots of the narrative where you need them (a rarity). Goldsworthy suggests that Carthage fell because its power was too heavily built around merca
Ahmed Chowdhry
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, history
A brilliant book. The initial part of the book, especially the first Punic war may not have had the pulse racing but once Hannibal comes into the picture, the story moves at a thrilling pace. It is the story of the Super Power of the day, Rome against its Mediterranean rival Carthage. The battle is of relatively unequal before the arrival of Hannibal, but the genius of the Punic General turns the table on the Romans in the Second Punic War. How Rome responds to this humiliation, and is able find ...more
Alexandru Tudorica
I was always interested in the major ancient conflicts that have literally shaped the course of entire civilizations over centuries, still profoundly influencing us today on a plethora of levels.

This book is an outstanding introduction to the Punic conflicts. While I cannot comment on the quality or accuracy of the sources employed, the balance of the arguments and the scholarly reputation of Mr. Goldsworty make me inclined to fully trust them. The read is entertaining, with the emphasis on the
James Murphy
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know much about the 3 Punic Wars, those fought between Rome and Carthage between 264 and 146 BC. My knowledge of them wasn't much more sophisticated than what I'd learned in school: that Hannibal crossed the Alps from Spain with elephants to invade Italy, that he defeated a Roman force in a horrific battle at Cannae by using a classical double envelopment which has become something of a tactical ideal generals throughout history have tried to match, that Rome plowed under the defeated c ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great Carthaginian general, Hannibal, was an unsurpassed genius. That, above all, is made clear in this narrative history of the three Punic Wars. Hannibal laid trap after trap for the overly-aggressive Roman legionary commanders during the Second Punic Wars--and the Romans repeatedly fell for it. The Battle of Cannae, Rome's worst military defeat and one of the most pored-over battles in history (Napoleon, two thousand years later, had a great great many thoughts) comes to life in this book ...more
Elliot Hadley
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I've read on romantic history. The author makes the subject matter very approachable for someone like myself who has only read a few books on the Romans. I especially enjoyed reading about the battle of cannae and also the rise of scipio africanus.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I love Hannibal. I love the Punic wars. Soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I was going to read it.

This book is a five star book for those who love to get out their tin soldiers and toy boats and recreate military strategy on a blow by blow basis. The author does dwell too much on strategy and orders of battle and maneuvers and counter maneuvers for my taste. But, there is nothing wrong with that for those who love that.

This book is a three star book for those who aren’t really into t
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read by Goldsworthy, a highly-regarded scholar of Roman history. I enjoyed his descriptions of the battles, his analysis of theories he attempts to disprove and his brevity. Goldsworthy, unlike many Roman scholars, keeps it short and sweet, solidly analysing the Punic Wars in less than 400 pages, while putting the conflict in context and additionally providing a narrative. I suppose the reason I limit this review to four-stars is that I found it a bit too dense at poi ...more
Holly Lindquist
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a deftly-written and highly readable account of all three Punic Wars, not just the famous 2nd Punic War featuring Hannibal, but the 1st (a tug of war between Rome & Carthage over Sicily), and the 3rd (the one that clobbered Carthage entirely)... The author succeeds admirably in making the text entertaining yet even-handed. He gives the reader an excellent sense of the succession of events, how the first war led to the second and so on, and how the politics of Rome & Carthage made ...more
Mikael Cerbing
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A great book about the three Punic wars (Hannibal is in the middle one) with a focus on the military side of the wars. There is some politics in the book, but the focus is on generals, movements and battles. Due to reasons of historic sources and the lenghts of the diferent wars the main chunk of the book focuses on the second war.
Its a very well written book, easy to read but still with a lot of information. Because of all the time that have passed since the war there isnt that much informatio
Krisley Freitas
Brilhantemente escrito por um autor que é referência em história antiga romana, o livro começa com uma análise das fontes históricas, falando sobre a confiabilidade dos historiadores clássicos e a escassez de documentos disponíveis. Na sequência há uma competente e bem organizada visão geral sobre a sociedade, cultura e militarismo tanto de Roma quanto de Cartago, garantindo ao leitor conhecimento básico para o melhor entendimento dos conflitos. A partir daí o livro é dividido em três partes, co ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a very readable history of the series of wars between early Rome and Carthage from 264 BC to 146 BC. The history is based on ancient historians who have different standards for historical reporting than our modern standards and so there are questions of reliability to many narrations. Goldsworthy, who wrote an excellent historical fiction Vindolanda, relies mostly on a Greek, Polybius, who followed the Carthaginian armies and Livy, a Roman historian who sometimes puffs up the Roman side ...more
Nic Bowen
There has been a lot of books written in this particular subject from many different authors but I find it just that I would chose dr Adrian Goldsworthy version of events coincidently every roman book I have read he is the author but with his expertise in military history he was an ideal choice. I found the book informative although some battles were glanced over and merely took three or four lines to describe which I can understand as there were lots during the Punic wars but at times I felt it ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very insightful on the Punic Wars, the early beginnings of Roman Society and the fall of Carthage.
Warfare is affected as much by culture as any other human pursuit. The Romans mixed a military career and that of a politician. Men were elected into politics by their achievements, or that of their families. The Romans believed that characteristics and ability were family genes - if a man's father was successful on the battlefield there was ever reason to believe the son would be succ
Donna Anoskey
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ancient-history
I had only studied the Punic Wars as an influence on the Roman Republic, and so read this to fill in the many gaps. I am very glad that I did, as this is an excellent read. Goldsworthy does not just report the wars, but discusses the primary sources in depth, showing excellent analysis of the primary sources. His presentations of the readiness and efficiency of the Roman legions in the years before, during and after the Punic Wars was illuminating. Carthage, as an ancient culture, is still shado ...more
For those interested in ancient world history and one of the most notable topics in the subject, this book is very good at providing in-depth, detailed coverage. As for me, my interest is primarily in American history, so reading about ancient war maneuvers was a bit beyond my comprehension and interest level. The book, while good at being in-depth, was a bit too dense for me, and thus took me some time to read, but I made it through and now have a somewhat better understanding of the Punic Wars ...more
Parker Smith
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Goldsworthy gives an enthralling narrative history of the Punic Wars in their entirety. Managing to provide a history digestible and interesting to the common reader while still maintaining an academic and scholarly rigor is a difficult task, and one executed perfectly here. Goldsworthy also does the work of a truly great historian by emphasizing that events happen in their own time and place, but also can still provide lessons for understanding our modern world. Essential reading for anyone who ...more
Joshua Jacobs
I bought this two years ago, at the age of 14, and couldn't quite get through it. I burnt through it in a week now though, and was highly impressed by it. The Fall of Carthage provides diagrams, explanations, and is overall a very entertaining and highly readable of all the Punic Wars. While necessarily summarising rather than peering at each battle in great depth, it is still a great book and easy to follow. The longest part of the book is dedicated to going through the Second War, followed by ...more
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Adrian Goldsworthy was born in 1969 in Cardiff. He was educated in Penarth and then read Ancient and Modern History at St. John's College, Oxford, where he subsequently completed his doctorate in ancient history. His D.Phil. Thesis was the basis for his first book, The Roman Army At War 100 BC - AD 200, which looked at how the Roman army actually operated on campaign and in battle.

For several yea
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“It took three days and nights to get through the marshes and the army suffered much in the process, the men finding it difficult to rest on the muddy ground so that some were only able to sleep by lying on pack saddles, or the corpses of the many baggage mules which collapsed and died during the journey.” 0 likes
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