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The Roman Army at War, 100 BC-AD 200 (Oxford Classical Monographs) [Hardcover]

Adrian Keith Goldsworthy
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1996 0198150571 978-0198150572
This detailed examination of the way in which the Roman army operated during a war and how it fought a battle breaks away from existing studies that mostly concentrate on the army in peacetime and attempts to understand the army as an institution whose ultimate purpose was to wage war. Adrian Goldsworthy explores the influence of the Roman army's organization on its behaviour during a campaign, emphasizing its great flexibility in comparison to most of its opponents. He considers the factors determining the result of a conflict and proposes, contrary to orthodox opinion, that the Roman army was able to adapt successfully to any type of warfare. Following the technique pioneered by John Keegan in The Face of Battle (1976), Dr Goldsworthy builds up a precise picture of what happened during battle: tactics employed; weaponry; leadership; behaviour of individuals as well as groups of soldiers; and, of utmost importance, morale. _ _ This book is intended for scholars and students of ancient history, particularly Roman history, and archaeology. Also of interest to archaeologists.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press (1 Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198150571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198150572
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,959,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adrian Goldsworthy has a doctorate from Oxford University. His first book, THE ROMAN ARMY AT WAR was recognised by John Keegan as an exceptionally impressive work, original in treatment and impressive in style. He has gone on to write several other books, including THE FALL OF THE WEST, CAESAR, IN THE NAME OF ROME, CANNAE and ROMAN WARFARE, which have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages. A full-time author, he regularly contributes to TV documentaries on Roman themes.

Product Description

About the Author

Adrian Keith Goldsworthy is at University of Wales at Cardiff. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
In this brilliant book Adrian Goldsworthy asesses the Roman army in one of it's most interesting periods. He does so in the style of John Keegan and later VD Hanson - looking at the experience of battle for the general, the unit and the soldier. This is an art in itself and Goldsworthy pulls it off perfectly. He does for Roman military history what Keegan and Hanson did for their respective periods (the medieval and modern military history of Keegan and the Greek history of Hanson) and he does so with every bit of genius, class and readability of the aforementioned two. No wonder he got the D.Phil - this is historical brilliance!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best available book on the roman army 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer
I have many books on the roman army but this one is by far the best. As the other reader pointed out this book has a completely different approach from the illustrated uniform and equipment guide which is very common. It examines the army from a much more humane perspective, exploring how the roman soldiers acted under the enormous strain of the bloody hand-to-hand combat. I could not praise this work enough. I only hope Mr.Goldsworthy would write onother book on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but problematic reference 4 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book that is heavily inspired by John Keegan's revisionist "Face of Battle" (1976) and which seeks to do for the Romans what he has done for later periods (from Azincourt to the Battle of the Somme) and what Victor Davies Hanson did for the Ancient Greeks. Accordingly, you get a fascinating presentation of the "General's battle", "the Unit's battle" and "the Individual's battle" while his first chapters lay out the Army's organization, the main opponents it was confronted with over the period (Gauls, Germans and Parthians) and the campaign.

It does go into a fair amount of detail in explaining the training, equipment, morale, leadership, strategy, and tactics of the Roman Army. It also has the merit of showing that the Roman Army between 100BC and 200AD was not invincible or made up of supermen. There were defeats. Discipline did break down on a number of occasions and troops were prone to deserting. Another interesting insight, which goes back to AHM Jones (1964) and his work on the latter Roman Empire, but which the author also mentions for the Army during the earlier part, is that units were never at full strength and often considerably understrength, especially after a long period of campaigning, such as Caesar's legions during the Civil War.

There are however, a number of problems with this book which is not, despite its qualities, the definite reference that it is portrayed to be. It is in fact a mix between the so-called "mechanistic approach", which the author criticizes so much and then applies himself, and the "face of battle" approach, which insists more on human factors and emotions associated with war.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and rewarding read 12 Feb 2009
I needed to read this book as research for my writing interests. Ordinarily I'm not sure that I would have picked up something quite so specific. I was worried that it would be dry and overly academic but I knew I needed the information inside so I pressed on. How wrong I was. After an initially boring introduction which seemed to confirm my fears, I was treated to something truly engrossing.

One word of warning here. I have given this book five stars but I think it can only be properly appreciated with some prior knowledge of Roman history. Goldsworthy's period stretches three hundred years but he also includes the odd example from outside this period such as the Punic Wars. It is essential therefore to know who the big figures in Roman history were and the order in which they came. Also important is knowledge of what was happening in the Empire at any particular time. If you already know this stuff you will find this book an excellent exploration of an essential aspect of Rome.

The book covers many different facets of the Roman army from its organisation to how it behaved while on campaign; there is even a section detailing Rome's main enemies. Goldsworthy organises his material with skill. Throughout the book he focuses on the army in greater and greater detail until we are pretty much in the shoes of a typical legionary, witnessing the sights and sounds just as he must have done. Goldsworthy goes into some precise detail but this never bogs down his prose. On the contrary, his numerous examples serve to create an extremely vivid picture of what life must have been like in this one of these armies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FIRST RATE 19 Sep 2013
Excellent read, covers all the Roman army from 100BC to 200 AD in a great deal of detail. You get detailed chapters on the opposition as well as various views of what it may have meant to be a front line legionary or auxiliary.

I have to say I'm not the world's greatest fan of Mr Goldsworthy's style - I have five of his books sitting on my shelves and I'v only managed to finish two of them(all gifts)! This one has been sitting, hidden from view, since April 1998, and I came across it almost by accident when tiding up. Really glad I did, it's thought provoking and the writing is almost normal. Excellent as I said and surely a must for any students of the Roman Army. One slight drawback though, I think it's based a little to strongly on Keegan's "Face of Battle", another book and author I don't rate very highly - but I expect it's just me being ignorant!
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