The History Book Club discussion


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message 151: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments At first thought, one would think that comic books would be easier to adapt to movies. As you said, they do have a lot of visual elements. But the story is still told in such a different way. I think the only time I've seen a movie based on a comic book I'd read before was some of the Asterix movies. And I thought the movies were terrible.

Sounds like you know your comics, and also a lot of battles. A book I ran across once, and I want to read but haven't seen again, is Battle 100. The author chose the 100 "most influential" battles in the history of the world and briefly discussed each one.

The Battle 100 The Stories Behind History's Most Influential Battles by Michael Lee Lanning by Michael Lee Lanning

message 152: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) That looks like a very interesting book Elizabeth, I hope you manage to find a copy again so you can read it.

The Battle 100 The Stories Behind History's Most Influential Battles by Michael Lee Lanning by Michael Lee Lanning

message 153: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Andre,

You should recognise part of this next quotation from my book which is about Spartan envoys being ambushed and captured by Athenians:

"....Taken to Athens, they were executed, and their bodies cast into a pit: a nice piece of revenge, for the Spartans had themselves been killing and casting into pits Athenian and allied traders they happended to take on the coasts of the Peloponnese. Vindictive? It was a vindictive war.

In this famous deed of revenge, the gods, too, played their vengeful part. For more than sixty years before, the Spartans had murdered emissaries from the Great King of Persia and cast them into a well (they had asked for earth and water as symbols of submission, so the Spartans gave them water). The gods had been angry, and the Spartans could gain no favourable omens thereafter. So the heralds of the Spartans went up to the Great King and invited him to kill them in exchange, to cleanse Sparta of the bane. The King refused and sent them home, not wanting to incur the same curse of herald-killing as the Spartans had. At Sparta the office of herald was hereditary, and it was the very sons of the envoys the Great King had spared whom the Athenians now captured and cast into the pit. The revenge of the gods was slow, but it was certain. The same clattering loom-shuttle of revenge that wove the events of the Ten Years War wove, too, the acts of high Olympus."

Song of Wrath The Peloponnesian War Begins by J. E. Lendon by J. E. Lendon

message 154: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Dec 27, 2010 03:47AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
If only both groups of idiots would have thrown each and everyone in whatever pit they had available they would have spared themselves and their enemies a lot of fighting... and probably made the Gods happy in the meantime too.

message 155: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments André wrote: "If only both groups of idiots would have thrown each and everyone in whatever pit they had available they would have spared themselves and their enemies a lot of fighting... and probably made the G..."

Ah, but if they had been smart enough to do it that way, they wouldn't have been idiots. Ha ha.

Such is the way of mankind, both historically and currently. There is usually a better way, and it is usually not taken. The trick is to learn from the historical stories and maybe make a few better choices currently.

message 156: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments That is very interesting stuff, Aussie Rick. Thanks for sharing the snippets from your books. Funny, isn't it, how so much of what people do to each other is based on "You did it to us first!"

message 157: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "That is very interesting stuff, Aussie Rick. Thanks for sharing the snippets from your books. Funny, isn't it, how so much of what people do to each other is based on "You did it to us first!""

Add "we were here first" and "it is written" which brings us back to the idiots...

message 158: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments Exactly!

message 159: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Elizabeth & Andre, the book is quite interesting as the author is trying to show that the wars between the Athenians and Spartans, in fact between most Greek city States was based on worth, ranking, honour & status and nothing more. It's a very interesting read so far.

message 160: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Dec 27, 2010 12:06PM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Honor was one of the Greeks' biggest issues; mixed with pride you get quite an explosive substance - which if you ask me sends us straight back to the primates and away from culture and reason...

message 161: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I don't know Andre, I think the author is trying to show us that we have not advanced that much more now and the modern wars of 'national security' are the same as the wars the Ancient Greeks fought for honour and status.

message 162: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
I tend to disagree. Honor and pride played a much larger role for the Greeks back then then it does now for lets say the US (although it of course is different in other regions - Cote d'Ivoire is a nice example, or the Balkans, even North and South Korea). Also it has become much harder for the president/leader of a more or less democratic society to get his people to fight just for him and his hurt pride. It was different then. People fought for Kings and what they told them was their fatherland or country. Now with "free" press and parliament it has become a little harder to get an entire nation behind you just because you want to kill your neighbor because he stole your wife (to put things down to the basics)

message 163: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I don't know Andre, the recent Gulf conflict tends to show that it is possible for leaders of a democratic country to lead/drag people to a war with false or misleading 'facts' all for their 'national interest'. It is harder to do with free press but not impossible :)

message 164: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Andre, this may explain better what the author is attempting to show in his book, this is the final sentence in the Introduction of “Song of Wrath”:

“Thucydides the realist was useful in his day: but now we need Thucydides the student of national honor and pride and vengeance. For very similar modes of understanding relations between states prevail today, especially among the nations and international actors whose aims and actions the contemporary West finds it hardest to understand and manage: the wrathful ones, those who seek symbolic victory regardless of consequences, those who seek revenge for ancient slights. It is not, therefore, only interesting to know how the Spartans and the Athenians once fought a great war over national rank by cycles of revenge and retribution. It may, alas, be useful as well.”

Song of Wrath The Peloponnesian War Begins by J. E. Lendon by J. E. Lendon

message 165: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Here is another section from my current book; “Song of Wrath” that I found interesting:

“Paches, the sly Athenian general, lured a mercenary commander in Persian employ out of his fortress for a conference by promising (no doubt with tremendous oaths to the gods) to restore him to his ramparts ‘safe and healthy’. When the man came forth, Paches proceeded to have him seized – although not placed in chains, which, chafing, would have violated his oath – then attacked and took the fortress and slaughtered those in it. His bloody work finished, Paches had the enemy commander carried delicately back within the fortress and set down ‘safe and healthy’, thus fulfilling the exact terms of his promise. Then Paches had him grabbed again and shot to death with arrows, a nasty and slow way to die.’

Song of Wrath The Peloponnesian War Begins by J. E. Lendon by J. E. Lendon

message 166: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Dec 28, 2010 01:17AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I don't know Andre, the recent Gulf conflict tends to show that it is possible for leaders of a democratic country to lead/drag people to a war with false or misleading 'facts' all for their 'natio..."

True, but it wasn't for pride/honor. It was about money - which in the end they hoped would involve more than just one person getting rich. In this case the oily bunch.
What I meant was that back in those days it was far more personal. AN entire war could erupt just because some idiot felt the other had hurt his pride. Like in the middle ages when they fought over who will be first to cross the bridge, or the duels a couple of centuries later. I still think it has become a little harder nowadays. Then again, looking at the Balkans....

message 167: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Here is another section from my current book; “Song of Wrath” that I found interesting:

“Paches, the sly Athenian general, lured a mercenary commander in Persian employ out of his fortress for..."

What do they call Greece again, Birthplace of Civilization...

message 168: by Tom (new)

Tom Saw another new book by Richard A. Gabriel being released in Feb. He does seem to pump out the books.

The Military Biography of Rome's Greatest Enemy

Hannibal The Military Biography of Rome's Greatest Enemy by Richard A. Gabriel by Richard A. Gabriel

From the publisher


The Romans’ destruction of Carthage after the Third Punic War erased any Carthaginian historical record of Hannibal’s life. What we know of him comes exclusively from Roman historians who had every interest in minimizing his success, exaggerating his failures, and disparaging his character. The charges leveled against Hannibal include greed, cruelty and atrocity, sexual indulgence, and even cannibalism. But even these sources were forced to grudgingly admit to Hannibal’s military genius, if only to make their eventual victory over him appear greater.

Yet there is no doubt that Hannibal was the greatest Carthaginian general of the Second Punic War. When he did not defeat them outright, he fought to a standstill the best generals Rome produced, and he sustained his army in the field for sixteen long years without mutiny or desertion. Hannibal was a first-rate tactician, only a somewhat lesser strategist, and the greatest enemy Rome ever faced. When he at last met defeat at the hands of the Roman general Scipio, it was against an experienced officer who had to strengthen and reconfigure the Roman legion and invent mobile tactics in order to succeed. Even so, Scipio’s victory at Zama was against an army that was a shadow of its former self. The battle could easily have gone the other way. If it had, the history of the West would have been changed in ways that can only be imagined. Richard A. Gabriel’s brilliant new biography shows how Hannibal’s genius nearly unseated the Roman Empire.

"Richard Gabriel’s Hannibal is a worthy successor to his books on Subotai, Muhammad, Scipio Africanus, Thutmose III, and Philip of Macedon. Informed equally by the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of antiquity and his own military background, Hannibal is a highly readable military biography of a brilliant tactician who failed to understand the culture of his Roman enemy and thus could win battle after battle, but never the war. Gabriel has once again made a significant contribution to our understanding of warfare in antiquity, one that scholars and general readers will find fascinating.”
-- Keith Poulter, editor of Military Chronicles

"This work presents a superb blend of biographical narrative, strategic and tactical analysis, and an impressive presentation of source materials to create a comprehensive study of one of antiquity’s greatest commanders. In his latest effort, Gabriel offers new insights and explanations for Hannibal’s successes and ultimate failure, casting one of history’s most famous commanders in a completely new light. This book is a must for anyone with an interest in warfare in antiquity and in the late Roman Republican period."
-- Christopher A. Matthew, Macquarie University, Australia, and author of A Storm of Spears: A Reappraisal of Hoplite Combat

"In Hannibal, perhaps his best book yet, the distinguished military historian Richard Gabriel examines the life and campaigns of the great Carthaginian general in the Second Punic War. Gabriel explains how Hannibal turned a multicultural mass of Carthaginians, Iberians, Gauls, and others into one of the most effective armies in history, with which he very nearly destroyed the rising power of Rome. Combining a brilliant analysis of the strategic intricacies of the war, and a detailed examination of Hannibal’s strategy and tactics, with a careful analysis of largely overlooked logistical issues, Gabriel has produced a very valuable work of ancient military history that will interest and impress historians and general readers alike."
-- Albert A. Nofi, contributor for Military Chronicles and author of To Train the Fleet for War

message 169: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Wow, Tom, sounds like a great book. Please let me know when you're done reading it. With all that's been published lately, on either Hannibal or one of his battles, I'd prefer to get an honest review instead of once again relying on Publishers' blurbs loaded with praise.

message 170: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments Good find, Tom. Thanks!

message 171: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Nice post Tom, I have read this author's book on Scipio Africanus and have his other books on Thutmose III and Philip of Macedon to read yet but since I love reading about Hannibal I decided to order a copy of his new book as well so thanks :)

Scipio Africanus Rome's Greatest General by Richard A. Gabriel & Philip II of Macedonia Greater than Alexander by Richard A. Gabriel & Thutmose III The Military Biography of Egypt's Greatest Warrior King by Richard A. Gabriel & Hannibal The Military Biography of Rome's Greatest Enemy by Richard A. Gabriel by Richard A. Gabriel

message 172: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice I'm new the history group and this folder, but have enjoyed reading all the posts. Thought I'd throw a little female spice in with all the puppy dog's tails. Here are some biographies of women from this age:

Hypatia of Alexandria  by Maria Dzielska by Maria Dzielska

Hypatia of Alexandria Mathematician and Martyr by Michael A.B. Deakin by Michael A.B. Deakin

Hypatia the Lady Philosopher of Alexandria (b. AD 355? d. AD 415) was one of the most revered philosophers, mathematicians and astronomers of her time. A movie called Agora with a (somewhat) fictionalized version of her life came out last summer with Rachel Weisz as Hypatia. The Dzielska book does a very good job sorting through the myths and literary legends about Hypatia. The Deakin one does an excellent job of looking at her mathematical legacy.

Theodosian Empresses Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Transformation of the Classical Heritage) by Kenneth G. Holum by Kenneth G. Holum

The Life and Times of the Empress Pulcheria A.D. 399-A.D. 452 by Ada B. Teetgen by Ada B. Teetgen

Galla Placidia Augusta: A Biographical Essay by Stewart Irvin Oost (The University of Chicago Press, 1968) - sorry no book or author link for this one.

The Theodosian women were powerful in their own right during this time when a woman couldn't legally be the "prince." Hollum's book is the most readable and gives a good background on the all the women of the Theodosian reigns. Oost's book is a thorough look at Galla Placidia (b. AD 388/390? d. 450)--Theodosius the Great's daughter--who effectively ruled Western Rome during her son's minority (Valentinian II.) Teetgen's book from 1907 is primarily geared to extolling "Saint" Pulcheria (b. AD 399 d. 452)--Theodosius' granddaughter and sister to Theo II. She declared herself Augusta and regent of her younger brother at the tender age of 15 and made it stick. She was hugely influential with her brother throughout his long reign.

Boudica (The Roman Conquest of Britain) by Graham Webster by Graham Webster

Boudica Iron Age Warrior Queen by Richard Hingley by Richard Hingley

Boudica probably needs no introduction. I read the Graham Webster book several years ago after working with him on a dig in England. Haven't got to the Hingley book yet.

Since Rome, and particularly Late Antiquity, is my specialty, these are the books I have on hand. I noticed referrals for a biography on Livia Augusta and there's tons of stuff on Cleopatra. Any recommendations for Hatshepsut or Zenobia? Or other leading ladies? Olympias (Alexander the Great's mother) was an interesting character. Anybody know of a good book about her?

message 173: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Jan 06, 2011 01:53AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Child of the morning by Pauline GedgeChild of the morning by Pauline GedgePauline Gedge

Hi Faith, this is fiction on Hatshepsut but well written.

I also liked
Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica, #1) by Manda ScottDreaming the Eagle by Manda ScottManda Scott on Boudica

Since I think we don't know enough facts to fill even one page about the woman's life I don't mind reading fiction here.

message 174: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Jan 06, 2011 03:21AM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Faith wrote: "I'm new the history group and this folder, but have enjoyed reading all the posts. Thought I'd throw a little female spice in with all the puppy dog's tails. Here are some biographies of women from..."

Hi Faith, a very good post, informative and well laid out and great work on posting the book covers and author's!

I have one book at home that covers Empress Zenobia by Pat Southern although I have not read it yet to offer an opinion.

Empress Zenobia Palmyraªs Rebel Queen by Pat Southern by Pat Southern

The only book I have read on Hatchepsut has been by Joyce Tyldesley who has written extensively on Egyptian subjects.

Hatchepsut by Joyce A. Tyldesley by Joyce A. Tyldesley
"Egyptian Queen Hatchepsut, who died in 1482 B.C. after more than 20 years of peaceful rule, proclaimed herself pharaoh during her reign. She depicted herself, in temple paintings, as a man who hunted, fished and even sported the pharaoh's hallmark false beard. Was she, then, as many historians have speculated, a cross-dresser or merely power-hungry and eager to outshine the half-brother whom she married, King Tuthmosis II? There's absolutely no evidence to suggest she "came out" as a transvestite, concludes English archeologist Tyldesley, and the fact that Hatchepsut retained her female name "suggests that she did not see herself as wholly, or even partially, male." In this highly conjectural biography, Hatchepsut emerges as a conformist queen consort who, once her husband died, blossomed as a pragmatic ruler, bringing Egypt an oasis of stable government, impressive architectural restoration and adventurous foreign trade and exploration from Phoenicia to Sinai. This biography will be of interest primarily to specialists." - Publishers Weekly

"An absorbing scholarly biography, based on a meticulous review of the archaeological record, of a remarkable woman who ruled as pharaoh for 20 years in Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1490 b.c.). Although an important pharaoh whose rule was notable for internal order and other significant achievements, Hatchepsut has suffered, Tyldesley (Archaeology/Liverpool Univ.) argues, from an unjust obscurity, born mostly from her enemies' determined efforts to obliterate her memory and from a consequent paucity of archaeological evidence about her. The daughter of Tuthmosis I and widowed by her half-brother and husband, Tuthmosis II, Hatchepsut became queen regent for the infant Tuthmosis III, whose mother was a member of the royal harem. As Tyldesley relates, Hatchepsut was a model regent at first, but in the seventh year of the reign she became pharaoh, assuming the title King of Egypt (there was no term for queen) and taking on the symbolic masculine aspects of her role, including the traditional false beard. Tyldesley contends that, contrary to a common interpretation, Hatchepsut's behavior was not that of an obsessed power-grabber, but of a typical pharaoh; she allowed Tuthmosis III to obtain the traditional pharaonic military education, she ruled with him as co-regent, and her long rule was characterized by economic prosperity and extensive monument-building, the traditional preoccupations of New Kingdom monarchs. Tyldesley argues that evidence of military conquest during Hatchepsut's reign is slender and questionable, but asserts that there were solid achievements in the realms of trade and exploration. The author speculates on the relationship between the queen and Senenmut, one of several brilliant administrators who made her reign possible. Finally, Tyldesley concludes that Hatchepsut died a natural death (in contrast to arguments that Tuthmosis III orchestrated her death). Tyldesley works closely from surviving texts and fragmentary monuments to recreate vividly an outstanding woman of the ancient past." - Kirkus Reviews

message 175: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice Thanks for the recommendations, Andre and Rick!

message 176: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Jan 28, 2011 10:51PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I saw that this book has been released in the UK for those interested in this period of history; "The Tyrants of Syracuse: 480-367 BC v. 1: War in Ancient Sicily" by Jeff Champion.

TYRANTS OF SYRACUSE WAR IN ANCIENT SICILY, THE Vol 1 480-367 BC by Jeffrey Champion by Jeffrey Champion
This is the story of one of the most important classical cities, Syracuse, and its struggles (both internal and external) for freedom and survival. Situated at the heart of the mediterranean, Syracuse was caught in the middle as Carthage, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Athens and then Rome battled to gain control of Sicily. The threat of expansionist enemies on all sides made for a tumultuous situation within the city, resulting in repeated coups that threw up a series of remarkable tyrants, such as Gelon, Timoleon and Dionysius. In this first volume Jeff Champion traces the course of Syracuse's wars under the tyrants from the Battle of Himera (480 BC) against the Carthaginians down to the death of Dionysius I (367 BC), whose reign proved to be the high tide of the city's power and influence. One of the highlights along the way is the city's heroic resistance to, and eventual decisive defeat of, the Athenian expeditionary force that besieged them for over two years (415-413BC), an event with massive ramifications for the Greek world. This is the eventful life story of one of the forgotten major powers of the ancient Mediterranean world.

message 177: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Jan 16, 2011 05:25PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Since Philip Freeman has just released a new biogrpahy on Alexander that I will most likely have to have I decided I better read his account of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman by Philip Freeman

Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman by Philip Freeman
In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror. The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders studied his strategy and tactics, from Hannibal to Napoleon, with countless more in between. He flashed across the sky of history like a comet, glowing brightly and burning out quickly: crowned at age nineteen, dead by thirty-two. He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.
Alexander was born into the royal family of Macedonia, the kingdom that would soon rule over Greece. Tutored as a boy by Aristotle, Alexander had an inquisitive mind that would serve him well when he faced formidable obstacles during his military campaigns. Shortly after taking command of the army, he launched an invasion of the Persian empire, and continued his conquests as far south as the deserts of Egypt and as far east as the mountains of present-day Pakistan and the plains of India. Alexander spent nearly all his adult life away from his homeland, and he and his men helped spread the Greek language throughout western Asia, where it would become the lingua franca of the ancient world. Within a short time after Alexander’s death in Baghdad, his empire began to fracture. Best known among his successors are the Ptolemies of Egypt, whose empire lasted until Cleopatra.

In his lively and authoritative biography of Alexander, classical scholar and historian Philip Freeman describes Alexander’s astonishing achievements and provides insight into the mercurial character of the great conqueror. Alexander could be petty and magnanimous, cruel and merciful, impulsive and farsighted. Above all, he was ferociously, intensely competitive and could not tolerate losing—which he rarely did. As Freeman explains, without Alexander, the influence of Greece on the ancient world would surely not have been as great as it was, even if his motivation was not to spread Greek culture for beneficial purposes but instead to unify his empire. Only a handful of people have influenced history as Alexander did, which is why he continues to fascinate us.

"Fast-paced and dramatic, much like Alexander himself, this is a splendid introduction into one of the most dramatic true stories of history." — Adrian Goldsworthy, (author of Antony and Cleopatra)

message 178: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I am nearly halfway through Philip Freeman's biography on Caesar and it’s been a great read. A few readers have complained that this book does not offer anything new on the life of Caesar, well to be honest I don't think that is ever going to happen. This book is a great story of Caesar and regardless if you have read about him before or not this account is so easy to read that it’s hard to put down. We all know what is going to happen but the book is written so well you are rushing to get to the next page, the next chapter. It’s a book well worth reading for those who may never have read anything about this great man and even for those who have. Another great and very detailed account for those interested is; "Caesar: Life of a Colossus" by Adrian Goldsworthy or you could try Caesar's own accounts;

Caesar Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy by Adrian Goldsworthy

The Gallic War (World's Classics) by Julius Caesar & The Civil War (Oxford World's Classics) by Julius Caesar by Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman by Philip Freeman
"Historian Freeman (The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts) paints a flattering portrait of Caesar in this admirable biography, exalting his cunning, military skill, political insights and allegiance to the plebeian class. In fast-paced prose and detailed historical sketches, Freeman traces Caesar's life from early youth onward, covering his marriage and service as a priest (or pontifex); his election to pontifex maximus in 63 B.C.; his command of Roman forces in the Gallic Wars; his ascension to leader of the republic; and his famous assassination. Drawing on Caesar's own writings, Freeman portrays him as a brilliant military strategist whose defense of Roman land in the Gallic Wars extended the rule of Rome from Italy to the Atlantic. Caesar returned to Italy in 49 B.C. and became dictator three years later, seeking to improve the republic through civic reforms, including the taking of a proper census, the building of a library, the codification of Roman law and the conversion of Rome to a solar calendar. Although Freeman's biography reveals little new information about Caesar, his cultural and historical knowledge bring the emperor to life and humanize him in a way no writer before him has succeeded in doing.” – Publishers Weekly

“The character and exploits of Gaius Julius Caesar continue to fascinate both historians and laymen, with good reason. His military conquest of Gaul spread Roman civilization beyond the confines of the Mediterranean Basin. His political reforms laid the basis for the imperium established by Augustus. His personal story is loaded with drama and adventure. Freeman, a classics professor at Luther College, has written a compact but thorough account of the life and achievements of this historical giant. He traces Caesar’s family background, his patrician upbringing, and his early public career as he strove to survive in the tumult of the political chaos and civil wars that plagued the republic in the first century BCE. As Caesar’s political career advanced, he became, Freeman argues, a consummate manipulator who was prepared to take huge risks by reaching out to the plebeian class. This bold and sometimes reckless approach is even more evident in his military campaigns. Ultimately, as Freeman indicates, his willingness to challenge powerful vested interests led directly to his murder. This is a fine biography best suited for general readers.” - Booklist

message 179: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Here is a book due out for release soon that I dare say I will have to have in my library: "The Lusitanian War" by Luis Silva.

The Lusitanian War by Luis Silva by Luis Silva
Two Centuries Before Boudica, Another Celtic Leader Challenged the Might of Rome
Following the Second Punic War in 202 B.C. when the Carthaginians were finally ousted from Iberia, Rome thought that they were now in control of the region. Soon, however, they found themselves pitted against an unexpected foe: the native Iberio-Celts, the Lusitanians. With one occupier gone, the Lusitanians took the opportunity to oppose their replacement, the Romans, in an effort to establish their own nation. Led by the charismatic Viriathus [vee-RAA-toos], whose example instilled the same kind of fury and devotion as the future Celtic warrior queen Boudica, the Lusitanians began a bitter war with the Romans in 155 B.C. that would rage on and off for the next twenty-five years. Despite their military advantage, the Romans could not at first defeat the Lusitanians, so they offered a peace treaty. A large number of Lusitanians and their key leaders arrived at the designated meeting point, only to be massacred. Viriathus managed to escape the deadly trap and rallied his people to continue the fight. Knowing that they did not have the numbers of trained soldiers to oppose the Roman Army, Viriathus developed a guerrilla campaign of hit-and-run tactics and attrition. After years of stalemate, the Romans once again sued for peace. Following a short truce, however, the war resumed but the Romans still could not subdue the Lusitanians. Finally, they resorted to paying assassins to do what their army could not: kill Viriathus. With his death, the Lusitanian resistance collapsed and Rome secured Iberia as a province of the empire.
Based on classical sources and Portuguese and Spanish language archival material, The Lusitanian War: Viriathus the Iberian Against Rome is the first booklength study of this fascinating leader and the important campaign he waged. His style of warfare had a profound influence on future Roman Army tactics when fighting native troops.

message 180: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Hi Rick,

Jack Ludlow used this setting for his novels

The Pillars of Rome (Republic, #1) by Jack LudlowThe Pillars of Rome
The Gods of War (Republic, #3) by Jack LudlowThe Gods of War
The Sword of Revenge (Republic, #2) by Jack LudlowThe Sword of Revenge
Jack Ludlow

message 181: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Andre, they look interesting!

message 182: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Hi Rick. I liked his writing but it doesn't get anywhere close to Steven Pressfield.
It jumps from time to time and it doesn't have the depth. But I think that is also not what he wanted.

Steven PressfieldSteven Pressfield

Jack Ludlow

message 183: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Jan 27, 2011 12:43PM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Nice! Thanks Tom!
Isn't it crazy how, based on different views, some depict the man as a cruel monster while others think he was a fairytale king... Probably a bit of both.

message 184: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I have just started reading "Pyrrhus of Epirus" by Jeff Champion. Pyrrhus is one of the lost or forgotten commanders of Antiquity so it is good to see a book available on this great leader who it is alleged was deemed as such by Hannibal when asked by Scipio Africanus who he thought the greatest generals of antiquity; Hannibal rated them as Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus of Epirus and himself respectively!

Pyrrhus of Epirus by Jeff Champion by Jeff Champion

message 185: by Tom (last edited Jan 30, 2011 11:49AM) (new)

Tom I recently finished Hannibal: Challenging Rome's Supremacy (out of print)(no cover) by Sir Gavin R. De Beer. It is a good brief general history of Hannibal. I have not read others on the subject so I am not able to make a comparision.

message 186: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Tom, Hannibal is one of my favourite subjects :)

A good book that covers Hannibal and the Punic Wars is Adrian Goldsworthy's book; "The Punic Wars".

The Punic Wars by Adrian Goldsworthy by Adrian Goldsworthy
"The three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage from 264 to 146 B.C. irrevocably changed the course of ancient history. Carthage, with her empire centered in North Africa, was humbled and then destroyed. Before the wars, Rome's power was limited to the Italian peninsula; by the end of the wars, Rome was the dominant power in the Mediterranean and was poised on the brink of even greater imperial expansion. Goldsworthy is an Oxford graduate and clinical scholar with particular expertise in Roman military history. His survey of this pivotal conflict is a masterful account that will appeal to both specialists and general readers who appreciate a superbly told story. Goldsworthy explains complicated military moves in easily understood language, and he conveys the vast scope and carnage of the wars with both insight and objectivity. His portraits of some of the key players, including Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, and Fabius Maximus, are both informative and thought-provoking. This story, of course, has been told before, but rarely as well." Jay Freeman (Booklist)

"An impressive historian of Roman warfare--highly praised by John Keegan--has written a thoroughly engrossing account of antiquity's greatest conflict. In the struggle for supremacy between Rome and Carthage, both sides suffered casualties exceeding that of any war fought before the modern era. Told in grand narrative style, following the fighting on land and sea, the terrible pitched battles, and such generals as Hannibal and Scipio Aemilianus who finally drove Carthage into the ground." - Main Selection of Military Book Club.

message 187: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) I've managed to find a bit more information on the book by Jeff Champion; "Pyrrhus of Epirus" for those who may be interested.

Pyrrhus of Epirus by Jeff Champion by Jeff Champion
Pyrrhus of Epirus was rated by Hannibal as the second greatest general yet seen (placing himself third). Indeed, Hannibal referred to Pyrrhus as his teacher, although the two never met, since he learnt so much of the art of war from his writings. Pyrrhus was born into the royal house of Epirus, northwest Greece, and was a second-cousin of Alexander the Great. His mother was forced to flee into exile to protect his life when he was a mere infant, yet he prospered in troubled times and went from a refugee to become king. Always an adventurer with an eye forthe main chance, he was deeply involved in the cut-and-thrust campaigning, coups and subterfuges of the Successor kingdoms. At various times he was king of Epirus (twice), Macedon (twice) and Sicily, as well as overlord of much of southern Italy. In 281 BC he was invited by the southern Italian states to defend them against the aggressive expansion of the burgeoning Roman republic. His early victories over the Roman armies at Heraclea and Asculum (assisted by his use of elephants) were won at such a high price in casualties that they gave us the expression 'Pyrrhic victory'. These battles were the first clashes between the hitherto-dominant Hellenistic way of warfare (as developed by Alexander) and the Roman legions, and so full of tactical interest. He failed in Italy and Sicily but when on to further military adventures in Greece, eventually being killed in action while storming the city of Argos.

message 188: by Tom (new)

Tom Thanks Rick, looks like a good read to add to my list.

Pyrrhus of Epirus by Jeff Champion by Jeff Champion

Here's a link to another review..

message 189: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Hi Tom, thanks to the link for that review which is a very good summary of the book. I would agree with the review that it isn't an in-depth biography but I think it is an excellent start for anyone who hasn't hear or read of Pyrrhus before. The only other book in English that I am aware of is; "Pyrrhus, King of Epirus" by Petros Garouphalias which is long out of print.

Pyrrhus, King of Epirus by Petros Garouphalias (no cover) Pyrrhus, King of Epirus by Petros Garouphalias

message 190: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments Now that looks like a great series. And recommended by Abraham Lincoln! Pretty cool.

message 191: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 01, 2011 01:32AM) (new)

Bentley | 35737 comments Mod
From Tom:

I found older one on gutenberg

Pyrrhus by Jacob Abbott

It is part of the 'Makers of History' series Abraham Lincoln said he was influenced by.

Tom after a more careful review: I am reattaching your second link. We have a no spam rule and we had to check out this second link.

message 192: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice I'm in heavy research mode and revisited a couple of useful books: Alexandria in Late Antiquity by Christopher Haas (no photo available) which I love for the clear writing and insightful analysis of topography and social conflict. An easier read, but more problematic book is Alexandria: City of the Western Mind by Theodore Vrettos (no photo available.) Vrettos provides tons of information, but there are a few silly errors (mistakes on a map, using a year in BC when he meant AD, etc.) that put me off and made me wonder what else he got wrong. So I always have to double check his facts.

Alexandria in Late Antiquity (Ancient Society and History) by Christopher Haas by Christopher Haas
Alexandria City of the Western Mind by Theodore Vrettos by Theodore Vrettos

message 193: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Feb 24, 2011 10:19AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Experience at first hand the spectacular, brutal life and savage death of the most iconic figure of ancient Rome.This manual will take the reader from the first faltering steps over the threshold of gladiator school, and through training to become a man of the sword. Find out how to get thousands to idolize you as the strongest, meanest fighter in the Roman empire. Learn why you should become a gladiator, how to join the profession, who will try to kill you (and what with), which arena of the empire is right for you, when and how often you will fight and what happens before, during and after the bout.

Gladiator The Roman Fighter's Unofficial Manual by Philip Matyszak Gladiator: The Roman Fighter's Unofficial Manual by Philip Matyszak

also by the same author:

Legionary The Roman Soldier's (Unofficial) Manual by Philip Matyszak Legionary: The Roman Soldier's (Unofficial) Manual by Philip Matyszak

Both are nice books - written with quite a sense of humor.

Of course there are better books out on the subject but this one is a nice start.

message 194: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments You can see some of that sense of humor just in the titles. They look like fun. I like how you introduce the books, Andre. :)

message 195: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: " I like how you introduce the books, Andre. :)"

FYI, the intro is not mine. It's on the website - probably by the publisher, Thames & Hudson

message 196: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2031 comments Ah, too bad. I was so impressed with you!

message 197: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (last edited Feb 24, 2011 11:46AM) (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Two other books about Gladiators I enjoyed:

Gladiator Rome's Bloody Spectacle (General Military) by Konstantin NossovGladiator: Rome's Bloody Spectacle by Konstantin Nossov

and for those of you able to read French:

Gladiateurs Des sources à l'expérimentation by Brice LopezGladiateurs : Des sources à l'expérimentation by Brice Lopez

The first has a nice overview, the second goes deeper into the different fighting techniques with tons of color photographs explaining detail.

message 198: by André, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS - Music (new)

André (AndrH) | 2694 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "Ah, too bad. I was so impressed with you!"

I'll send you some of my own gladiator writing as damage repair.

message 199: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice Ah, another gladiator fan. Non-fiction from my research shelves:

Age of the Gladiators: Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome Age of the Gladiators Savagery & Spectacle in Ancient Rome by Rupert Matthews by Rupert Matthews Rupert Matthews

The Way of the Gladiator The Way of the Gladiator by Daniel P. Mannix by Daniel P. Mannix (no photo)

Gladiators Gladiators by Michael Grant by Michael Grant Michael Grant

Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (Approaching the Ancient World) by Donald G. Kyle by Donald G. Kyle (no photo)

The Gladiators: History's Most Deadly Sport The Gladiators History's Most Deadly Sport by Fik Meijer by Fik Meijer (no photo)

Gladiators: 100 BC-AD 200 Gladiators 100 BC-AD 200 (Warrior) by Stephen Wisdom by Stephen Wisdom (no photo)

And a strange hybrid of fiction and non-fiction:

Gladiatrix: The True Story of History's Unknown Woman Warrior Gladiatrix The True Story of History's Unknown Woman Warrior by Amy Zoll by Amy Zoll (no photo)

I usually like to give a brief evaluation for any books I post, but it's been such a long time since I've read them, that I don't remember which ones were most useful for which purpose! Anyone else who's read them, please add your comments.

I will say the Amy Zoll book is a strange one in which she interweaves a fictional story (in italic type) with her reporting on the archaeological find of remains in England that might have been a female gladiator. There is no definitive proof, but that is one of several interpretations.

message 200: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) Some very good books here as usual! I'm really enjoying my current book; "The Gothic War" and I'm sure a few readers here would most likely enjoy reading about the Eastern Roman Empire trying to claim Italy back from the Ostrogoths with such figures as Belisarius, Narses and the Goth Totila.

The Gothic War by Torsten Cumberland Jacobsen by Torsten Cumberland Jacobsen

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Books mentioned in this topic

Archaic Greece: The Age of Experiment (other topics)
A Handbook of Greek Art (other topics)
A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 BC (other topics)
Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (other topics)
The Punic Wars (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Gisela Marie Augusta Richter (other topics)
Anthony Snodgrass (other topics)
George Grote (other topics)
Tom Holland (other topics)
Adrian Goldsworthy (other topics)