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Hannibal (Wordsworth Military Library) [Paperback]

Ernle Bradford
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 2000 Wordsworth Military Library
Hannibal had long known his fate should the Romans ever lay hands upon him. He had taken an army right through Spain and into what is now France, crossed the Alps (at a time of year when no one believed it possible), and invaded Italy. Then, for 15 years, he used the country as his battlefield and his home, destroying Roman armies with an almost contemptuous ease. For centuries after his death, Roman mothers would frighten their children into behaving by telling them: "Hannibal is at the Gates!" Even today, Hannibal stands as one of the greatest generals in the history of warfare and his battlefield tactics are still studied in military academies all over the world. Ernie Bradford presents a biography, exploring the strategies of his greatest triumphs and showing us Hannibal as the soldier, the general, the statesman and the private man - revealing a personal charisma and leadership ability that makes his presence still felt in every country bordering the Mediterranean.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840222263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840222265
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 977,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Hannibal failed 18 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Apart from being well-written en eminently readable, this book clearly shows how and why despite all those great victories over the Romans, Hannibal never really stood a chance of conquering the Roman Republic. It also shows the amazing far-sightedness of Scipio who - in an era when being a good tactician usually went little further than positioning your soldiers at the high end of the hill - realized that cutting Hannibal's supply line in faraway Spain would beat him more effectively than any battle victory. An entertaining and informative book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Gisli Jokull Gislason VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All in all one great book and it wasn't untill later that I realised that I had previously read another book by Ernle Bradford - The Great Siege: Malta, 1565 (Wordsworth Military Library) and that is easily among the better history books I have read. Bradfords style is living and smooth and you have the feel of reading a fictional novel whitout sacrificing historic content. Today these are my favorite books, for real life has a far deeper plot than fiction, and the characters have greater depth.
As for the book itself the story of Hannibal is the story of Carthage and the rise of Rome. It is the story of the underdog vs. the almighty Empire and it has a tragic twist. From a military standpoint Hannibals achivements were outstanding and battles are well rendered in the book. Politically the stakes were high in this life and death struggle, the last danger to the new order and the final hope of salvation for an entire nation. All in all a most excellent read. For 5 pounds, buy it.
Lastly I would like to recommend that you read Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon by Liddel Hart when you have read Hannibal, so that you can see Hannibal and his victor from a Roman standpoint, together the books greatly compliment each other. Both books are great and I am a little sad that I have finished both and have to find something new to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantasic journey in reading 12 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This book is an excellent read, anyone who likes such books as 'gates of fire' would love this one.
Hannibal, as described in this book, was a military genius but also had a dark personality, for example crucifying of roman prisoners etc.. so this book is not for the weak stomached among you!
but well worth a read (couldn't put it down once I started!)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful piece of art! 26 Feb 2002
By A Customer
When I first started this book, I wasnt interested in Ancient History but as soon as I finished i got addicted to Ancient History. Ernle Bradford writes extremely well and the battle scenes are live and kicking. It is pitty that the book isnt talking about his private life an his emotions. If any one wants to read about his private life I suggest hannibal by Ross Leckie. Finally from the day Hannibal leaves Carthage to the day he dies near Dascylium you feel like you have done the expedition yourself.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good 29 July 2000
By Tom Gillis - Published on
This is a standard biography of the Cartaginian military leader Hannibal, which is now (summer 2000)out of print, I believe. The writing is fine, and the story line (if one can use that term for a non-fiction book) is interesting: despite an (apparently) unending series of tactical and operational successes, Hannibal loses the war against Rome, due primarily to strategic considerations outside of his control (i.e., Carthage should never have taken on this war unless they had changed their approach substantially). There are lessons here for modern man (sometimes, despite having the smartest generals, the best trained and most experienced troops, cutting-edge military technology, the wealthiest society in the known world supporting you, and pretty good luck (to boot), it's just not enough) -- well, I could go on here for a long time, but will refrain from doing so.
Although perfectly enjoyable, the book suffers from 2 major shortcomings; one unavoidable, but the second easily addressed, but evidently addressing it wasn't worth the time and effort of the author and/or publisher:
1. The sources on Hannibal's life are Roman (only). There simply are no other sources of information. The author recognizes this explicitly, and tries to balance the Roman accounts with "common sense" interpretations and a modern understanding of the situation.
2. The absence of sufficient maps: This is just inexcusable (unfortunately, it is very common in modern books of this sort). Repeatedly throughout the book, the author uses phrases such as "Hannibal marched to (this town), then to (that town), while the Romans marched to (someplace else)". These towns generally don't appear in modern atlases, and there is no further description in the book (is it on the coast? in the mountains? north? south" east? west?). Without any additional guidance, this is simply useless information. One is tempted to believe that the author has read this information in source materials, but never bothered to discover what it actually meant (could this be true? Nah). It's more likely that the publisher was unwilling to spring for a couple of pennies per book to provide the maps (or that the author couldn't be bothered to spend the couple of weeks necessary to get them included). In any case, it's a shame, and detracts from an otherwise excellent book.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Broad Coverage 28 Aug 2003
By Martin L. Fawls - Published on
Informative without being too technical in a military sense. Major battles were covered, but not in minute detail; which I often find boring. Overall strategies are covered without the step by step walkthrough of each battle.
Not really knowing a lot of specifics about Hannibal, I thought this was a very good book to start off with. I had read Bradford's work on Thermopylae and liked that. Hannibal is similar in style. It is obvious that Bradford admires Hannibal, but he balances that out with an almost equal admiration of the Roman's ability to withstand and ultimately defeat him. I came away a little surprised with a sense that Hannibal had a great sense of humor and that he realized his attempt to break Rome was in vain fairly early in the effort. It is probably that, in the end, which I like about Bradford's style - particularly in this book; I have much more of a sense of who Hannibal was than just reading a history of Hannibal.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read 9 Mar 2002
By Fred M. Blum - Published on
Hannibal by Ernle Bradford is a fine and enjoyable read about the history of the Second Punic War, with a principal focus on Hannibal's invasion of Italy and the subsequent 17 year occupation. It is obvious that the author is an admirer of Hannibal, and a grudging admirer of Rome. In some ways Hannibal is treated as a almost mythic character who not only was a military genius but attempted to fight a noble war. The Romans, on the other hand, are portrayed as devious, untrustworthy with their only saving graces being their perseverance and ability to eventually adapt to the superior abilities of Hannibal.
The book greatest failures lie in the descriptions of the major battles, especially Cannae. One of the greatest military feats of history is dealt with in a few pages. While Bradford does describe the basics of the battle, he does so in a very perfunctory manner. The same is true for the other major engagements. Further, the almost total lack of maps makes the battles and the troop movements difficult to follow.
The strength of the book is in the description of how the Romans eventually prevailed and Hannibal's miscalculations of the Roman persistence. After the destruction of up to 70,000 troops at Cannae, and numerous legions prior to the battle, most empires would have crumbled. Rome did not. The reasons for Rome's survival is the best reason to read this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Well Paced Biography 18 Dec 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Historically accurate information on Hannibal is unfortunately shaded by the winners- Roman sources or Greek writers under Roman influence- primarily relied upon to set out his "true character". Bradford does an admirable job of economically pointing out the bias of his sources and offers anecdotal evidence as well as common sense analysis to butress the proposition that Hannibal is perhaps the greatest military mind of the classical world,and was not merely a bloodthirsty despot. Hannibal was bold and innovative in strategy and tactics,introducing into set-piece battles strategies which would be adopted in modern warfare(and would be used by Scipio Africanus to defeat him at Zama). This book helps to balance the typical propaganda defeated enemies of Rome endure even today in general history books. Just as valuably,the book sheds light on the dynamics of Mediterranian political and economic life,Roman and Carthaginian intrigues against their own military leaders,and offers some entertaining side-notes about Hasdrubal Barca, father of Hannibal. Bradford's writing is accessible and entertaining,but should be followed up with other books on this era in order to fully appreciate how significant Hannibal's efforts on behalf of Carthage were.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hannibal the man as distinguished from Carthage the Nation 28 April 2012
By Aya Katz - Published on
This is my favorite biography of Hannibal. It is not just a history of the Second Punic War. It does not simply recount the great battles and discuss military strategy. It is the life story of a great man, and it describes who he was, where he came from and where he went. Bradford's biography shows the struggle between the politicians back in Carthage and the man at the front lines. It more than hints at the conflict of interest between the merchant and the warrior, the politician and the general. Bradford's narrative allows us to see that there were different factions among the Carthaginians, and that not everybody favored Hannibal. And the story does not end with military defeat and a harsh and shameful submission by Carthage to Rome. Bradford chronicles the life of Hannibal in exile. It tells how he returned to Tyre, the cradle of the Phoenicians, how he met with his greatest enemy Scipio on neutral ground and exchanged compliments, and how in the end, surrounded by enemies, he took his own life at the advanced age of sixty-five.
Ernle Bradford's writing style is vivid, and Hannibal reads more like a novel than a history book: "Hannibal, in his inland retreat, was undisturbed, but he knew that it could only be a matter of time before the Romans heard of the wealthy Carthaginian living in retirement at Gortyna, and learned his name. As he had done at Carthage, and as he had done at the court of Antiochus, Hannibal left secretly and swiftly. With him went the statues from his garden. When the Cretan priests of Artemis or Roman soldiers broke open the jars stored in the temple one can imagine his ironic laughter on the wind." I was so impressed with this passage, that I quoted it in my own novel, Vacuum County
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