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Caesars Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome Paperback – 28 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (28 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471686131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471686132
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.4 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 428,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"A unique and splendidly researched story, following the trials and triumphs of Julius Caesar′s Legio X––arguably the most famous legion of its day––from its activation to the slogging battle of Munda and from Thapsus, Caesar′s tactical masterpiece, to the grim siege of the Jewish fortress of Masada. More than a mere unit account; it incorporates the history of Rome and the Roman army at the heighth of their power and gory glory. Many military historians consider Caesar′s legions the world′s most efficient infantry before the arrival of gunpowder. This book shows why. Written in readable, popular style, CAESAR′S TENTH, is a must formilitary buffs and anyone interested in Roman history at a critical pointin European civilization." (T. R. Fehrenbach, author of THIS KIND OF WAR, LONE STAR, COMANCHES, and other distinguished works of history.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

They were the most famous and accomplished military unit of their day, raised personally by Julius Caesar as the first step in his relentless quest for glory and power. Caesar’s Tenth Legion took the lead role in all of his battles, from their bloody initiation in Spain and Portugal to the conquest of Gaul, the invasion of Britain, and the battles of the civil war. In Caesar’s Legion, Stephen Dando–Collins provides an extraordinarily detailed history of the Tenth Legion–its officers, its men, and its incredible string of victories, which continued even after Caesar’s death with the Siege of Jerusalem. Based on the author’s thirty years of painstaking research into the Roman military, using sources ranging from classical texts to tombstone inscriptions, this unprecedented regimental history paints an uncommonly vivid portrait of daily life in a Roman legion as it follows Caesar and his men along the blood–soaked fringes of the Empire. It was here that ambitious Romans built reputations through conquest, raw recruits became hardened foot soldiers, and the Tenth Legion became a killing machine–marching, digging, charging, ramming down gates, scaling battlements, storming through towns and villages, and slaughtering anyone who stood in their way. Throughout this harrowing tale, Dando–Collins reveals previously unknown details about Roman military practices, Caesar’s conduct as a commander and his relationships with officers and legionaries, and the daily routine and discipline of a Roman legion–from the legion buddy system to the banks legions operated for their soldiers, from Rome’s version of the U.S. Pentagon to new information about the legion recruiting system. We learn what a legionary had for breakfast, find out about his training, weapons, clothes, and pastimes, and discover the brutal discipline conscripts endured. From penetrating insights into the mind of history’s greatest general to a grunt’s–eye view of the gruesome realities of war in the Classical Age, this unique and riveting account sets a new standard of excellence and detail to which all authors of history will now aspire. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Thomas on 7 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although this book has been published for some years, on reading through the reviews here I was struck by the praise heaped on this 'author'. I have commented elsewhere on the review by Aaron Thompson (who has hit the nail right on the head) and I do not want to repeat myself overmuch. I will be brief, in attempt to counter the somewhat one-sided view of Dando-Collins' output (I find it difficult to dignify what he writes by referring to it as 'work').

Briefly, this person's books are mostly made up. I do not believe that he has researched any of this. There are major errors, omissions and mistakes throughout. In a nutshell, he doesn't know what he's talking about. Example: he claims that legions were enlisted in 'mass intakes' (not true - only refers to Republican legions in the early years of Rome) and that battle losses were not replaced, so at the end of their '16-year' service, they would be seriously understrength. These were the crack troops of the Empire! Most of these legions were originally the product of the civil wars that eventually (via Caesar, Pompey & Marcus Antonius) brought Augustus to power. If the legions were re-raised at such intervals it would amount to replacing a sizable fraction of the army's men all at once. There is NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE FOR THIS PRACTICE. NOT. ONE.

A number of reviews here have stressed that the book 'reads very well', or is 'an exiting read'. I think if you buy this volume (and the subsequent efforts penned by SDC) you will not get anything like the correct impression of the history of the legions of Rome. It doesn't matter how well it reads if the information you are getting is WRONG.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By arbiter on 30 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"A unique and splendidly researched story", as one review above suggests?

It starts with the implausible genesis of the tenth legion Dando-Collins presents on pages 6 + 7. According to him, Caesar is "small, narrow-faced". Suetonius explicitly describes him as tall and too round of face in his youth. D-C then claims "most of his contemporaries had achieved a praetorship as much as eight years earlier". Caesar got it at the earliest CONSTITUTIONAL age. The quoted Pompey had NEVER been a praetor.
In Hispania ulterior Caesar recruited the soldiers during his propraetorship for his planned attack on the Lusitanians and Callaicians. "And LEGIO X was born." (D-C)

There are many factors casting doubts on this scenario (Wikipedia, are you listening?):

ONE: Even after Marius' army reforms proper legions were constituted of Roman citizens. It is improbable that Caesar found enough such men in Further Spain in 61 BC to recruit for a Legion, since the Senate kept the franchise from the provincials as much as possible.
TWO: Plutarch talks (in "Caesar", 12, 1) explicitly of 10 COHORTS. Numerically, this is equivalent to a legion, but these soldiers were never assigned a number. If they had been a proper legion there would have been no reason not to say so, especially considering their later fame.
THREE: Of course, Caesar could have given them the franchise unauthorised by the Senate and thereby made them a legion. That, however, would have been grounds for prosecution back in Rome. Caesar only dared to do this from a position of strength, during the Gallic War.
FOUR: Conservative senators suspected Caesar of inciting revolution against the senate in Gallia cisalpina as early as 68.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gawblesser on 16 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some facts:
The great reformer of the Republican Roman Army, Marius, was Caesar's uncle. Marius would have been about the best military tutor ever in the history of the world, and was Caesar's military mentor and inspiration. This connection is not mentioned.
One of Marius' biggest reforms was to change the base unit of the legions from maniple to cohort. This book has maniples and cohorts in the same legion., along with 'colonels', a mix-up between legates and consuls (consul is the highest political rank in Republican Rome) and numerous other infelicities.
This book has the Helvetii, a Gallic tribe when Gallic military organisation was famed for its lack of structure, fighting as a Greek phalanx! Highly disciplined bodies of men wielding eight-foot spears in rigid synchronicity!
If you like this style of 'history', you should stick to Monty Python or Carry On films which at least have the honesty to advertise their comic intent.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chris1963 on 25 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
I got into this period in history by reading Conn Iggulden's Emperor Series which are absolutely great. I flicked through Amazon to find books that would offer me a little more factual information. I chose this book as my first attempt to get a better insight.
Having waded through this book of a zillion troop movements I note with interest and some disappointment that one of the other reviews labels this book as 'confused and misinformed'. I stuck with the narrative explaining the movement of 30 odd roman legions around Europe spanning a couple of hundred years and the battles in which they fought. I worked my way through the Gallic Wars, The Civil War, The Battles that raged after Caesars death while Octavian fought for ultimate control. I stuck with it as the Roman Legions besieged Jerusalem and in truth, I couldn't put the book down.
Yes, it is a little heavy going but I found it very interesting as a first factual read (or not if one of the other reviews is to be believed).
Most importantly, given the scathing review, my interest is fuelled tenfold. I now wish to read much more on the subject to draw my own conclusions.
There is no doubt, this book helps to bring to the readers attention some of the more pivotal battles in which the Tenth were involved. 'Nero's Killing Machine'(the 14th Legion)'from the same author, which I am reading now is doing the same. Using this book as a reference, I am currently creating a list of books relating to battles and commanders which will take me little further.
If the other reviews are to be believed then maybe this is not not the greatest factual read for an expert but it has worked for me.
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