Adrian Goldsworthy has combined ancient sources and modern interpretations to give us a breathtaking account of the three wars which raged between Rome and its Mediterranean rival, Carthage over the course of a century. One of his strengths is his ability to describe the complex logistics and manoeuvres of the significant battles of this era. He also gives perceptive accounts of the political machinations which brought about the policies, alliances and betrayals of the period.
The most successful and effective general of the entire tale, is Hannibal, one of the Barca family, and Goldsworthy gives him his due, describing the tactics by which he invaded Rome from Spain, and humiliated legion after Roman legion. However the narrative is clear that Hannibal's invasion was a gamble - he ditched his heavier equipment in order to speed the crossing of the Alps, and arrived in Rome without the ability or inclination to capture population centres. It is here that Goldsworthy's admiration of the sheer obduracy of the Romans shines through. Hannibal, with Italy at his feet, after destroying many legions, sent negotiators to treat with Rome. To his astonishment, the negotiators were sent away, unheard. The Romans simply would not be defeated, Hannibal was impotent to take the city, and though he roamed undefeated in the Italian peninsula for many years, his enemy would not give up.
There are detailed accounts of the rise and re-election of various Roman consuls and generals, the authoritarian nature of the elected elite, and the various factions which ruled Rome. I found it interesting that those plebs who did achieve elective office and military leadership, sometimes found that while their ascent was meteoric, their lack of privileged family backround could prove their undoing when events moved against them.
It has been said that history is written by the victors, and the book is significantly less descriptive and detailed when dealing with Carthaginian affairs. However I think the spirit of the Romans shines through, their ability to describe their own society, their sheer self-belief led to their creating and leaving detailed accounts of themselves and their society in a way which was unmatched among their neighbouring societies.
Overall this is an excellent survey of the events, and contains significant pointers for a deeper study of the various elements.