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Give Me Back My Legions! Paperback – 13 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Griffin; 1 Reprint edition (13 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312605544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312605544
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Product Description

Publius Quinctilius Varus, a Roman politician, is summoned by the emperor, Augustus Caesar, given three legions, and sent to the Roman frontier east of the Rhine. His mission is to subdue the barbarous German tribes where others have failed, and bring their land fully under Rome's control. Arminius, a prince of the Cherusci, is playing a deadly game. He serves in the Roman army, gaining Roman citizenship and officer's rank, and learning the arts of war and policy as practiced by the Romans. What he learns is essential for the survival of Germany, for he must unite his people against Rome before they become enslaved by the Empire and lose their way of life forever. An epic battle is brewing, and these two men stand on opposite sides of what will forever be known as the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest---a ferocious, bloody clash that will change the course of history.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Iphidaimos on 9 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback
Not one of Harry Turtledove's best I'm afraid. Basically the author posits three simple ideas - 1)that Romans didn't like Germans, 2)that Germans didn't like Romans and 3) that Germans liked being taxed even less - and then proceeds to flog them to death. The book, therefore, consists mainly of Romans having dark thoughts about Germans, Germans having dark thoughts about Romans and Roman soldiers tramping across Germany taxing everyone in sight. Not exactly rivetting reading. For the most part the author's grasp of the period's history is fairly good, but his grasp of Roman cavalry seems woefully limited. At one point he has the cavalry commander, Numonius, wondering about a way in which he can sit his horse more firmly. The inference is that he's missing the stirrup. This is unlikely I'm afarid since the Romans had already developed a cavalry saddle that gripped the rider's thighs using a system of four saddle horns. Thet didn't develop the stirrup because they had no need to. Worse still the author fails to realise that a cavalryman with no means of maintaining a stable fighting platform on the back of his mount is worse than useless. The author also fails to tackle the question of why Arminius rebelled against Rome in a convincing manner. Arminius wasn't simply a Roman citizen, he was a member of the Ordo Equester - a single honour that suggests he was far better connected in Rome than most other barbarian leaders. It also suggests that Arminius was probably adopted into a Roman equestrian family. To simply adopt that view that Arminius hated Romans and always had is rather facile and doesn't go even a small way toward explaining his motives. I reviewed another fictional account of this event entitled "A Fall of Eagles" which is far superior to this and recommend that you read that instead.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Livio on 4 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
In recalling the fateful events of the ambush and destruction of three roman legions in Germany, Turtledove chooses to focus mainly on Varus - the Roman governor of supposedly subdued Germany - and Arminius, the leader of the German revolt.

Good attention to historical detail, an interesting father/son relationship between Varus and Arminius deftly exploited by Arminius (not historically based but something "must" have happened to convince Varus to rely so much on Arminius)and the usual smooth and relible writing on Turtledove's part makes this a good addition to anyone's historical fiction library.

I didn't rate it 5 stars because I found the author's other historical fiction (Menedemos & Sostratos series, Justinian and also Household Gods) somewhat more interesting and featuring less trodden paths.

Next time I hope Mr. Turtledove will give us an alternative history ending to the events of 2.000 years ago: what would have happened if Rome had conquered Germany?
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first book by this author I have read. It lacks action. The structure of the book is such that it inevitably focusses on one disastrous battle but before that little actually happens. The book isn't just a simple 'swords and sandals' novel of Roman army action. The author has tried hard to examine the motives of the protagonist and antagonist in the overarching history and he acknowledges that his book is a novel and not a history book. Accepting that, the writing is good, the dialogue appropriate to each speaker and the feeling of the times comes through well. I liked both the descriptive prose and the narrative prose as well.
The barbarians IMHO were well portrayed and the rigidity of the Romans is also displayed well. Arminius' motivations are well described, probably not as accurately as is possible but it is a novel not a history. I also think the depiction of Varus was a little too kind. Robert Graves gives a very good account of the entire episode in a few pages of I, Claudius so if you didn't like this book maybe you should just read that.
The problem here is that we only have the Roman's account of what happened. Turtledove describes torture by the Germans with a delicate brush and I think he does that well - it isn't easy to describe torture without being horribly gory.
We only have the Roman version of the whole episode and I suspect it is heavily coloured by the Roman wish to demonise the Germans afterwards. The Germanic people were not as backward as many believe - they had a well-structured society, a strong moral code and deeply held religious convictions.
My over all impression was that it was good but not tremendous. It isn't as strong as Scarrow, Iggulden, Doherty, Turney or (not quite in genre) Cornwell.
Despite the lack of action making it hard to get into, I did enjoy the book.
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