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Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest [Hardcover]

Adrian Murdoch
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 April 2006
The German ambush which halted the Roman empire's imperial pretensions.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; annotated edition edition (20 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750940158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750940153
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 933,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Adrian Murdoch is a recognised expert on the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. A journalist and historian he has published widely on Roman Germany and presented several television documentaries on the battle. Previous books include The Last Pagan (Sutton 2003) a biography of Julian the Apostate and The Last Roman (Sutton 2006) a history of Romulus Augustulus and the collapse of the western Roman empire. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does a lot in 200 pages 18 Jan 2009
There are many battles which could be described as "Rome's Greatest Defeat". I'm not sure that I agree this was it but nevertheless I found Adrian Murdoch's book to be an enjoyable and informative read.

Murdoch's book is the story of the ambush and destruction of three Roman legions in the heart of Germany two thousand years ago. Murdoch structures his account logically taking the reader from a point a few decades before the disaster, to the ambush itself and beyond. The final chapters of the book discuss how the battle has been seen at different points in history right up to the present day.

The introductory chapters are good for both the newcomer to Roman history and also those who already have some knowledge. This is a tricky path to tread for any author as it is difficult to keep the experts interested without baffling the novices. Murdoch succeeds because he does a good job of describing how he sees these historical figures that only come to us partly formed from the past.

Murdoch seems to rely fist and foremost on the ancient sources for his description of the disaster but he does also talk about the archaeology involved. I think he combines the two well to give a good, detailed account of the battle itself and the events leading up to and following it. Murdoch's archaeological sources are not just from Germany. He also uses finds from other parts of the world such as Hadrian's Wall to round out the world he is describing.

Indeed, Murdoch makes a lot of effort to recreate the world at that time and I think in this he is very successful. There is a great description of a Roman fort and he drops in nice details such as a brief explanation of the amber trade. In quite a short book (about 200 pages) he really manages to achieve a lot.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book. 24 May 2006
It describes vividly both the situation in Germania which lead almost inevitably to such a tragic climax, and also the conditions and build up in the Teutoburg Forest which made it the massacre it was. Although I knew of the battle, I hadn't been aware of the full after-effects of the massacre on the Roman Empire. These are brought home and the result that the Roman Empire in Germany was never the same again.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and well judged account 20 July 2006
By Max
I ordered Murdoch's book on the basis of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, which reckoned it 'the definitive work on the battle of Teutoburg'.

I agree - I thought it was excellent. It is certainly written in a more popular style than many academic works but I found that a refreshing change and the academic rigour and research are certainly there. Highly recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 28 May 2006
Murdoch has produced another great book, this time moving away from Byzantine history (Julian) to look at the Romans, and Varus' historic - and shocking - defeat by the 'barbarian' Germans at the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9. Equally fascinating are his chapters on how the Battle of Teutoburg Forest have been politicised by modern Germans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good enjoyable read 1 July 2008
Although only one chapter of the book is actually dedicated to describing the battle itself, I still found this to be a fantastic read. In my opinion this is largely due to Adrian Murdoch's writing style - not dry and acamedic (like some other books on the subject), but instead, it is easy to read and is clearly intended for the non-expert.

Murdoch gives an excellent general description of the situation prior to Teutoburg, in addition to a more focused analysis of what the main personalities were doing up until then. After the chapter on the battle itself, he has written a few chapters about the immediate aftermath as well as the consequences it would have in more modern times.

Although I was a little disappointed regarding the lack of detail for the battle itself, Murdoch explains why he couldn't provide more - it simply comes down to a lack of information from ancient sources. I therefore think it's a little harsh to give him a lower rating based on this fact alone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Varus, Hero or Villain ? 11 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Adrian Murdoch's book is a superb account of Rome's frontier with Germania in the first century A D. The build up research work and the way it is delivered is an excellent prelude to the Teutoberg massacre. However very little of the actual battle is known and this account is not the best. The sources used are the most reliable known,and it is difficult to piece together the actual hand to hand fighting. If one is not to aware of the battle,then this is a useful book to familiarise yourself with. The ambush took place over several days in September 9 A D. and the specific locations are difficult to identify. Unless a further reliable account comes to light it is probable we shall never know the full truth of this matter. Adrian Murdoch has made as good a case as i have read for the reasons and people involved, but the battle account leaves a bit to be desired. A decent read but a bit pricey for a paperback.Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not dry and academic, but a good read 8 May 2008
Murdoch spends a lot of energy describing the personalities of each of the leaders involved in the history before an after the masacre, and he also spends a lot of energy describing how the masacre has been treated by painters and writers after it was rediscovered in the end of the middle ages. On the other hand I would have liked to have heard more about the changes in Roman politics towards Germanic tribes in the four centuries between the Varus massacre and the fall of Rome.

Murdoch's book is not dry and academic, but he still manages to pass on a lot of information, and I had a good time reading the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great scope and coverage
This is a topic that deserves far better coverage than it has so far received. The author himself says that it is shocking how little is written on it.

This is. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Scott Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, well researched, enjoyable text
If you're interested in the Varian/Kalkriese disaster in AD/CE 9, you need to buy this fine textbook by Adrian Murdoch. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ben Kane
3.0 out of 5 stars Highbrow.
I have been reading Military History books since i was a young boy, a pattern evolves with them, there are some that grip you and put you in the front line, you feel the author... Read more
Published 18 months ago by AM BOYLE
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
The book gives all the background of the battle and the main characters you need to know. I have done a great deal of reading on this battle, So its great to read another book on... Read more
Published on 3 April 2011 by Pharaoh
5.0 out of 5 stars Romes Greatest Defeat
Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest
Excellent tome about the discovery of the battle site at Kalkriese and the events leading up to and immediately... Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2010 by A. B. Drinkell
4.0 out of 5 stars Rome's Greatest Defeat
An excellent description of the events leading up to and the massacre in the Tutoberg forest. The last quarter of the book seemed to move away from this event and it looked as... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2010 by plato
2.0 out of 5 stars Whats the books title???
Full kudos to the author on his research of events surrounding the massacre, if you have no knowledge at all of the people involved, then this book will definitely serve you well. Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2009 by Kosciuszko
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
After reading references to this battle in other works I bought this book hoping to get a real insight into what happened. Read more
Published on 10 July 2009 by L. Deponeo
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Insights
This is a really excellent history book of the old school: scholarly, intelligent, well-written, thought-provoking. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Andrew Roberts
Published on 17 Oct 2006 by Andrew Roberts
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