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Roman Legionary, AD 69-161 (Warrior) [Paperback]

Ross Cowan , Sean O'Brogain
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
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Book Description

8 April 2013 Warrior (Book 166)
Between AD 69 and 161 the composition of the Roman legions was transformed. Italians were almost entirely replaced by provincial recruits, men for whom Latin was at best a second language, and yet the 'Roman-ness' of these Germans, Pannonians, Spaniards, Africans and Syrians, fostered in isolated fortresses on the frontiers, was incredibly strong. They were highly competitive, jealous of their honour, and driven by the need to maintain and enhance their reputations for virtus, that is manly courage and excellence. The warfare of the period, from the huge legion versus legion confrontations in the Civil War of AD 69, through the campaigns of conquest in Germany, Dacia and Britain, to the defence of the frontiers of Africa and Cappadocia and the savage quelling of internal revolts, gave ample opportunity for virtus-enhancing activity. The classic battle formation that had baffled Pyrrhus and conquered Hannibal was revived. Heroic centurions continued to lead from the front, and common legionaries vied with them in displays of valour. The legions of the era may have been provincial but they were definitely Roman in organisation and ethos.

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Roman Legionary, AD 69-161 (Warrior) + Roman Legionary: 58 BC - AD 69 (Warrior 71) + Roman Republican Legionary 298-105 BC (Warrior)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (8 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780965877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780965871
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Ross Cowan went to the University of Glasgow with the intention of studying medieval history but was waylaid by Classics, and eventually emerged with a Ph.D. for research on the Praetorian Guard and Second Parthian Legion. Now an independent scholar, Dr Cowan has published on all aspects of warfare in the Roman World. For more information: http://independent.academia.edu/RossCowan

Product Description

Review

"Archaeological relics blend with other color illustrations to accompany a detailed discussion of centurions and legionnaires, discussing cavalrymen and foot soldiers alike in a pick recommended for any early military history holding."- "The Midwest Book Review "(July 2013)

About the Author

Ross Cowan went to the University of Glasgow with the intention of studying Medieval history but was waylaid by Classics, and eventually emerged with a Ph.D. for research on the Praetorian Guard and Second Parthian Legion. Now a freelance writer and historian, Dr Cowan has published on all aspects of warfare in the Roman World. Sean O'Brogain lives and works in Donegal, Ireland. He has a BA (Hons) in scientific and natural history illustration from Blackpool and Fylde College (Lancaster University).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and interesting 28 April 2013
By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After so many books on the Roman legions and legionaries, including a number of titles from Osprey, I was a bit concerned that this one might be a "rehash" of previous titles. It is not. While Osprey titles are necessarily limited in size and the materials contained can generally be found scattered throughout the more specialized literature, this title does a good job in presenting the Roman legionary from the beginning of Vespasian's reign to that of Marcus Aurelius.

All the sections I was expecting to find are included: chronology, recruitment and terms of service, training, tactical organization, equipment, campaign, battle and its aftermath. The contents of these sections are also mostly what I was expecting. However, there were also numerous useful elements that are often not found in similar titles, or at least not explained as well. One example is the section on the formation and destruction of Roman legions, showing that, for all their vaulted invincibility, many legions suffered heavy losses and a number were destroyed over the period, sometimes entirely.

The contents of this booklet also include a number of other interesting (and often little-known) features. One example is the terms of service where the minimum age for enlisting and the ordinary term of service were exceeded, sometimes considerably, with 14-year old recruits or veterans with more than forty years of service. While the author makes good use of the information obtained from the tombstones of legionaries who served and died during this period, it is however not possible to ascertain to what extent these were common practices or exceptions.
More generally, Ross Cowan's book has two merits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good addition to the Osprey Roman series 10 Mar 2014
By Trajan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another good addition to the Osprey Roman series, a difficult period for Ross Cowan to research as there is a dearth of information from classical contemporary sources for this period, however to my mind the author does a pretty good job overall. The colour plates are good but not outstanding, osprey have produced better in the past, of more interest to me are the photographs from Trajan's Column , Tropaeum Traiani, and various funerary monuments which provide a plethora of valuable information.
recommended. The perfect companion to this work is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful little booklet on legionary life 19 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As usual a good small booklet which presents the main themes of the life of a legionary in the time of the Empire AD 69-161. This was a time when much of the Empire was at peace and when Roman tourism first sprang forth. The book however emphasises the life of a legionary such as his tasks, his uniform, armour, weapons etc as well as training. The artwork is quite good but does not compare to the superb work of Angus McBride much used in previous Osprey books, e.g. Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69. This book also changes the usual format where the artwork is presented in a central section to now being spread throughout the book. Personally I prefer the central section approach.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent quick read 15 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
These books are great for back ground knowledge without having to be too scholarly - they also invigorate the imagination.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and interesting 28 April 2013
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After so many books on the Roman legions and legionaries, including a number of titles from Osprey, I was a bit concerned that this one might be a "rehash" of previous titles. It is not. While Osprey titles are necessarily limited in size and the materials contained can generally be found scattered throughout the more specialized literature, this title does a good job in presenting the Roman legionary from the beginning of Vespasian's reign to that of Marcus Aurelius.

All the sections I was expecting to find are included: chronology, recruitment and terms of service, training, tactical organization, equipment, campaign, battle and its aftermath. The contents of these sections are also mostly what I was expecting. However, there were also numerous useful elements that are often not found in similar titles, or at least not explained as well. One example is the section on the formation and destruction of Roman legions, showing that, for all their vaulted invincibility, many legions suffered heavy losses and a number were destroyed over the period, sometimes entirely.

The contents of this booklet also include a number of other interesting (and often little-known) features. One example is the terms of service where the minimum age for enlisting and the ordinary term of service were exceeded, sometimes considerably, with 14-year old recruits or veterans with more than forty years of service. While the author makes good use of the information obtained from the tombstones of legionaries who served and died during this period, it is however not possible to ascertain to what extent these were common practices or exceptions.
More generally, Ross Cowan's book has two merits. One is to challenge wildly accepted assumptions made by previous historians on a number of "technical" points - statements that the senior centurion in a cohort had overall command of this cohort or that the auxiliary cohorts did most of the hard fighting while the legionaries were kept in reserve and preserved. Another is to show to what extent the legions and their subunits became a way of life, a society and a family for legionaries. This can largely explain both the troops' high morale and the fact that some of them served well beyond their normal terms of service.

The illustrations and plates are also rather good, even if perhaps not the best that I have ever seen in Osprey titles.

There are holwever a couple of limits. I was a bit uneasy with some of the author's extrapolations, particularly when he uses 4th to 6th century authors of military treaties (Vegetius and Maurice's Strategikon) to infer that certain legionary practices existed already during the 1st and 2sd century AD. This was a bit unfortunate especially since the author spends quite a few pages in showing that similar assumptions but made by other authors are questionable and it does give the impression that he somehow does not entirely practice what he preaches. A related feature is that I almost couldn't help wondering how much we really know about the Roman legionary of the 1st and 2sd centuries, as opposed to his immediate predecessors and successors.

A third but minor point is that I would have preferred if the author had provided us with as much explanations as possible instead of quoting written sources, as he tends to do in the first half of the title.

Nevertheless, this was a good one and it was worth a solid four stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsurprisingly, a challenging task 13 Jun 2013
By Anibal Madeira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Right from the start Cowan chooses a particularly difficult period to write about. For this period there are no Polybius, Caesar, Vegetius. You must gather data from many diverse sources and use reasoning and informed guesses.

But Ross Cowan is the man for the task, at least to challenge a few ideas (like the positioning of the centurion or the use of the crest in this period), to provide the reader with fascinating data, like the legions that were created and disappeared in this period, the fabulous debate on Virtus and Disciplina (with great examples of displays of both qualities for legionaries and auxiliaries, battling many presumptions), tactical organization (including discussions as diverse as the existence of file closers; who fought in the first rank; was there a return to manipular tactics?) among many other interesting themes. It's amazing how the author managed to raise so many debates and tries to defend his point of view, many times convincingly.

The internal photographs include not only the mandatory pieces of the Trajan's Column and Tropaeum Traiani, but also excellent photos of funerary monuments and altars that provide lots of valuable information. The color plate are illustrated by Seán Ó'Brógáin and are very good (with one exception in my opinion); you will find great visual representations of: Training at Lambaesis 128AD; Legionary Cavalryman 161AD; Recent recruit of Legio VII Galbiana 69 AD; Sacrificial procession of Legio II Augusta at the Antonine Wall 142AD; Fighting Styles (vividly depicting scenes from the Adamclissi's Tropaeum Traiani); Legionary vs legionary at first Cremona 69AD; The camp of the 9th attacked by Caledonians 82AD.

The main weakness of this very worthy work is in the use of sources. Most authors circumvent the scarceness of specific sources for certain periods by extending the focus. But this book is specific in the time period: AD69 - AD161. But although criticizing other authors (like in the file closers and optio positioning for example) for using anachronistic sources, he does that through most of the book. As an example when the author is discussing if veterans fought in the front rank, he gives examples from the battle of Pistoria (62 BC), Pharsalus (48 BC), Ruspina (46 BC) and even an attack to Shapur II camp at Amida in AD 359! I must say that I agree with the authors logic at this specific issue, but the data provided is mostly too far from the period at hand, so any conclusion should be taken carefully.

Unsurprisingly, this was a very tough book to write. I believe Ross Cowan made a very fine job here (although he has better works published) and gave us a very good monograph considering the limitations at hand.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, even for those familiar with the legions 22 April 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got this book not expecting to get much out of it, since I know quite a lot about the legions already. However, this book is full of lesser known aspects of legionary warfare from this time.It has some especially illuminating parts on auxiliaries and the role they played in warfare (not always the role traditionally thought of) as well as in-depth examinations of where centurions/optios stood in the battle line and what their different roles were (or weren't, in some cases.)
1.0 out of 5 stars Very very basic book 30 Mar 2014
By Frank Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not worth the money paid for the book. Would not buy any more of their books based upon this badly produced item.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Publication from Osprey 25 July 2013
By Patrick E Andrewsw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The excellent illustrations and photos of ancient relics of the Roman Army make this a perfect reference for the time of military operations in the ancient world.
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