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The Punic Wars

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,768 Ratings  ·  90 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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'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
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
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, history
A fascinating collection of historical facts and post bronze age war tactics, The Punic Wars were actually three huge wars between the ancient city of Carthage, and the great Roman Empire fought over 100 years.

Both powers were in a period of rapid expansion, resulting in increasing conflicts between Carthage, the superpower of its day, and Rome, which was becoming a melting pot of power and culture. Carthage relied on a naval power, of which it ruled over the sea, but failed to put an equal focu
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
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
Tudor Ciocarlie
The best book, fiction or non-fiction, about the Punic Wars.
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
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.

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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
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
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
Pieter Baert
Carthago is a bit of a misleading title since it is a book about the Punic Wars. This disappointed me somewhat since I hoped to read a bit more about Carthage outside the Punic Wars. But I guess the sources give only what they give and the author picks his themes.

For all else, Goldsworthy is a good writer and very detailed about army equipment, movement and tries to see through official, mostly Roman propaganda.
Pascal Van ooteghem
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
zeer duidelijk en interessante geschiedenis van één van de belangrijkste oorlogen voor Rome
Kevin Vejrup
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Clay
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rarely do I rate a book with a '5' but I found this 360+ page history of the three Punic Wars lucid, cogent, fact-filled, non-judgemental, well-documented, superbly written and engaging (even, engrossing) as many history books aspire to, but few seemingly reach.

Many readers of history -- and a number of writers of history, as well -- hope to find a reason for the present, and perhaps a way to the future, in the annals of the past. It is an understandable longing, and even an entertaining one, b
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting and sweeping history of the Roman Republic's more-or-less 119 year struggle against Carthage for supremacy in the Mediterranean. While actual fighting between these two states only consumed 43 years of this period, the rivalry was never far from the mind.

The Romans and Carthaginians fought three distinct wars (264-241 BC, 218-201, and 149-146). The first was a territorial and chiefly naval conflict over Sicily, the second a turbulent struggle for wider domination, an
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Emily by: some fish
Shelves: rome, nonfiction
I appreciate the historiographic approach to this material. A fine intro text to this conflict for readers who are comfortable with military terminology, but looking for more than a military history.
Andrew Fish
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
The Punic Wars were a key moment in the development of the Roman Empire, the moment at which the fate of the Mediterranean and by extension Western Civilization were set for centuries to come. But Goldsworthy's history of this century long conflict suggests that the outcome was predetermined by the different military cultures of the two sides: the Carthaginians saw wars as a means to a negotiated settlement, whilst the Romans could envisage no outcome between total victory and destruction. Had i ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Ah, When the world was a stage of epic and endless war! This book is an arm chair general's book, over flowing with the foundations of western military strategy still used today,( yet dwindling because of drone warfare, etc.) thanks to the world's most brilliant, daring, and fluid general, Hannibal Barca
who clearly was able to connect and motivate a diverse and rambunctious army who spoke numerous languages into the most spectacular fighting force- that including Elephants! What makes this book
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goldsworthy's meticulously detailed study of the Punic Wars was a worthwhile read. The details were often tedious, particularly when the author debated over rival theories over those details. For me it is the hight of boredom to have to consider whether there were 8,000 or 12,000 infantry in a particular formation during some battle. I'm sure it mattered enormously to the men who participated in the battle, and to their loved ones at the time. Nor was I pleased with considerations of whether the ...more
Rick Davis
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to slog through The Punic Wars by Adrian Goldsworthy, but it was well worth it.

When I picked up this book I assumed that it was a general history of the Punic wars. However, rather than give a broad, cultural history of the time period, Goldsworthy spends his time on the military aspect of the wars; troop formations, battle tactics, military organization, strategies and politics are the focal points of Goldsworthy’s history. This was a bit out of the way for me, not being a h
Gabriel Dalcin kothe
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Usando em sua maioria, como fonte, os livros de Lívio e Políbio, o autor Adrian Goldsworthy nos leva de volta para a antiga Roma, para a Primeira Guerra Púnica travada quase inteiramente na Sicília , seguidamente assolada por cercos de cidades de ambas as potências de Roma e Cartago e grandes batalhas navais, onde Roma carecia da experiência, mas ao mesmo tempo mostrando sua flexibilidade com a invenção do "Corvus" e prevalecendo. E 23 anos depois, nos apresenta a Segunda Guerra Púnica, onde tiv ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In the grand scheme of things, some wars are more important than others, and the Punic Wars between the Roman Empire and Carthage from 265 to 146 BC are definitely amongst the most significant in history. This conflict between the two Mediterranean rivals created Rome's first overseas conquests and destroyed the last possible challenger to her European supremacy. All of Rome's legacies - republican government, Christianity, Romance languages and culture, etc. - are results of this ferocious stru ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was great until the 3rd Punic War then it ended in anti-climax. Still he is my favorite author on all things ROME. I need to get my own copy someday.
Al Johnson
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adrain Goldsworthy has managed to link the Punic Wars into an excellent narrative format without losing the essential basis in what we know and don't know. His ability to weave the high human drama with the technical aspects of the long war and what it meant for not only Rome, Carthage and the Mediterranean but the world today was excellent.

I have tabbed the book extensively for further research and ended up reading it twice so I didn't miss the little details that add to the overall narrative
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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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