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The Navies of Rome [Paperback]

Michael Pitassi
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £19.99
Price: £13.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 May 2012
Both welcome and useful. (...) This is a narrative history as well as a focused study of the development of the ships, officers, and crews and the overall naval establishment. Recommended. CHOICE This publication represents the first true examination of the Roman Navy as an independent arm of the military. Though many may perceive the Roman Empire as a primarily land-based organisation, an empire forged by the formidable legions of infantry, the truth is that it was as much a maritime empire as that of the British in the nineteenth century, and in fact the Roman Navy was the most powerful maritime force ever to have existed. It secured the trade routes and maintained the communications that allowed the Roman Empire to exist; and it brought previously untouchable and unreachable enemies to battle and enabled the expansion of Imperial power into areas thought hitherto inaccessible. This book, featuring detailed reconstructions of the ships themselves, provides an engaging survey of the craft, their crewmen, and the navy's major contribution to the Empire's growth.

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The Navies of Rome + The Roman Navy: Ships, Men & Warfare 350BC - AD475 + Hellenistic and Roman Naval Warfare 336BC - 31BC
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; Reprint edition (17 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843836009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843836001
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 17 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 512,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


(There is an) enormous amount of material contained in this excellent work by Michael Pitassi, which for the first time seeks to examine all aspects of the much neglected subject of Roman naval power. (It is) an academically very rigorous work of considerable substance written for both professional scholars and for those who are approaching the subject for the first time. It deserves to be on the shelves of all those with a passion for ancient naval warfare. JOURNAL OF MEDITERRANEAN STUDIES The first comprehensive history of Roman fleets from their inception to the end of the Roman empire in the West. (...) An interesting and handy overview of military Rome on sea and river. ANCIENT WARFARE

About the Author

Mike Pitassi is an independent scholar.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent study of the subject 26 July 2011
By Gareth Simon TOP 100 REVIEWER
This is an excellent and readable study of the subject.

The chapters are:
P001: Beginnings: Foundation to the First Punic War, 753 to 264 BC
P043: A Great Naval Power: The First Punic War, 264 to 218 BC
P083: Interbellum & The Struggle Resumed, 218 to 201 BC
P119: The Growth of Empire, 201 to 86 BC
P151: The Road to Civil War, 86 to 44 BC
P183: The End of the Republic, 44 to 13 BC
P219: The Early Empire, 12 BC to AD 70
P253: Apogee and Nadir, AD 71 to 285
P285: Renewal and Decline, Ad 285 to 476
Appendices, Bibliography & Index - pp315-348
40 maps and illustrations, 14 colour plates

I really don't have much to say in comment; this is a comprehensive narrative history of the Roman navy, with interspersed "boxes" covering specialist details such as layouts of oar-banks and number of rowers, ship-board artillery and even shield-patterns. It is well-written and readable, although, especially in the late-empire period, it does dwell in great detail on the land campaigns - usually when there is not much naval activity - so this is actually a military history of Rome but from a naval viewpoint.

Further reading:
See Hellenistic and Roman Naval Warfare 336BC - 31BC for a discussion of pirates in the ancient world - one man's pirate was another man's merchant adventurer, which might account for the speed with which Pompey cleared the seas, and why the vast majority of pirates were allowed to surrender unharmed; not the behaviour you would expect from the Romans...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, but not wholly trustworthy 18 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Detailed descriptions, well written, author with great skill, strict cronological, but likely based on too many uncertain assumptions from roman literary sources. Would like a more critical discussion. Many descriptions in detail of sea battles, which I doubt is possible or justifiable from available sources. If you don't trust the author and his references - there goes the fun of reading!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue, Comprehensive Treatment of Roman Sea Power 1 Oct 2012
By James J. Bloom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was in the process of editing my notes and drafts for a book I am writing on contract with Pen & Sword, provisionally titled Rome Rules the Waves, when I became aware of this book. I ordered a copy, worried that this would trump my project. My work is a kind of geo-strategic overview (how's that for a indigestible mouthful?) of Roman Sea Power at it's apogee, roughly 150 BC to AD 400. Being as the author of the subject title covers the entire span of Roman naval activity, and my own book is more of a precis of grand strategy in a naval context, I don't feel I've been outflanked. That said, this book provided a wealth of detail that has been hidden away in various erudite treatises on classical arcana. I had already completed most of my research when I purchased this book, but it does fill in some gaps on ship types, naval infrastructure and some minor naval engagements I had overlooked. I would highly recommend this book as a sequel to Chester Starr's 70+ year-old treatment.
It is an easy read and packs in a wealth of detail on everything you wanted to know about Roman naval history, but had no clue how to ask. My own book will be, as mentioned, what German military historians used to call "eine strategischer ueberblick". Mr. Pitassi's admirable work should be on the bookshelves alongside
the noted Starr book, and Thiel's two rare (and expensive) studies on the Punic Wars prequel and review, now over 60 years old.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious attempt at a chronology for a often-forgotten part of the Roman Empire 8 July 2011
By Kenneth Peters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written as a chronology of events for the development of the Roman Navy from foundation to eventual destruction (in the West), this is an ambitious book because so little attention is paid to the Navy both in the original source material and in scholarship. This book certainly does not replace the classic Chester G Starr "The Roman Imperial Navy" but it does cover a much larger time period, and is more tightly focussed on historical context (which other books often fail at providing). The book is nicely organized, the text is clearly written - this is a book written for a large audience. The main failings of the book are the dodgy layout, lack of distinction between authorial conjecture and reporting from other sources (which is why I gave it 4 stars), and a lack of technical detail (remedied to a large extent with his companion book, Roman Warships). That said, it's an important resource for a long-neglected area of Roman studies. If Pitassi continues in the vein of this and Roman Warships he will certainly become synonomous with Roman naval research.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Amazing format. 13 Oct 2013
By John Mors - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have only just started this book.

I saw the book in Rome (totally different name) and decided to get the English version when I got home.

I have only just started, but really easy to read, and although full of facts does not read like the dreaded textbook.

The most interesting thing is the organization for the book.
Although chapter based, the whole book is in chronological order.
There are side bars on specific topics (like an annotated book).
The major difference in format from the Italian version is that the plates are grouped together as opposed to being spread throughout the book.

The drawn illustrations lack artistic merit, but oddly that does not annoy me as doesn't detract from the book, and are easy to comprehend.

I had a lot of books to read, but this jumped to front of list.
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