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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good and well-illustrated overview, 20 Oct 2013
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JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign) (Paperback)
This was in my view one of the better Campaign titles, with none of the biases that I have found in a number of other books on the Jewish revolts against the Romans. The historical context of the campaign, the campaign (or rather the series of campaigns) culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the aftermath, with the two main subsequent revolts, are presented clearly, concisely and yet as comprehensively as possible.

The main Roman characters come out well, including rash and impatient Titus who almost got himself killed a couple of times and ordered his men into quasi-suicidal attacks a couple of other time. Also well depicted is the cautious, systematic and methodical generalship of his father Vespasian, who laid out the groundwork of the campaign and left his son to finish it off by besieging and taking Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders are presented in less detail, although their violent and bloody internal conflicts, and the damage that this did to their cause, are well rendered. Also well shown is the way in which they managed to squander whatever mobile forces they had towards the beginning of the insurrection in an ill-conceived attack on Ascalon.

The various operations are generally well described, from Vespasian's methodical campaign to reconquer each and every city to the interminable and bitter siege of Jerusalem. Both are described in detail, step by step, and well-illustrated through well-chosen photos and plates. The failure of the Governor of Syria's first attempt to crush the insurrection is mostly also well told. However, although a humiliating defeat, it may not have been the utter disaster that it is sometimes portrayed to be. The core reason for this defeat is clearly shown. It was mainly due to Roman over-confidence, a mistake that Vespasian would be very careful to avoid.

Also valuable is the section on the aftermath, with the bit on the siege of Massada careful to "demystify" the "sicarri". It shows that they had contributed nothing to the revolt once they had been expelled from Jerusalem. They spent the next six years or so pillaging all the surrounding towns and villages to feed their growing community and stockpile reserves.

There is a little glitch with regards to the second Jewish revolt, at the end of Trajan's reign. While the author states that this and the Bar Kochva revolt took place during the apogee of the Roman Empire, the first did occur during a period of relative weakness, after Trajan had concentrated the army against Parthia and drawn down troops from across the whole Empire. The seriousness of both this revolt and the Bar Kochva revolt should not be minimised, although both are much less well known. The first of the two essentially hampered Trajan's conquest and was probably one of the main reasons why Hadrian essentially put an end to it. The second saw the emergence of an entirely independent Jewish State, a reminiscence of the Maccabees, and it took the Romans and the full might of the Empire three years to destroy it.

This is a great title which also has some interesting illustrations of archaeological findings. Five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A victory? What have we won?", 13 Dec 2013
By 
D. C. Stolk (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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"The Jewish Revolt AD 66-74" by Si Sheppard, a volume in the Osprey Campaign series, is a superb account of how an army of peasant guerrillas fought against the most powerful empire and war machine of antiquity: The Roman Army.
The Jewish Revolt started when a local disturbance in Caesarea caused by Greeks sacrificing birds in front of a local synagogue exploded into a pan-Jewish revolt against their Roman overlords. It was finally ended when the last Jewish remnants of the revolt, who held out in the mountain fortress of Masada until AD 73, committed mass suicide when the Romans were breaking down the walls, bringing the revolt to an end.

"The Jewish Revolt AD 66-74" provides, in 96 pages, a concise presentation of the Roman campaign to crush the rebellion. The opposing commanders are introduced, as well as the opposing armies and their war-aims, before the narrative switches to the campaign itself. It was a campaign mainly of sieges, and those of Jotapata, the seaport Joppa and Gischala to give an example are covered. Most of the attention is given to the five-month siege of Jerusalem in the summer of AD 70, which ended with the fall and destruction of the city amid dreadful atrocities. Even by Roman standards, the human toll was appalling. But Jewish resistance was not broken yet, and this is also covered in this Campaign-title. Isolated redoubts still remained in rebel hands. Masada was one of them, on the western bank of the Dead Sea. Although a postscript to the Revolt, this is the best-known part of it to the general public (see below). The Roman Flavius Silva led the siege of Masada, which lasted three years, and the ensuing "death before dishonor" resolution of the Sicarii holdouts has gone down in history as the famous last stand of a defiant-until-death Jewish nation.
Kudos must go to author Shi Sheppard, who manages to present the convoluted story of this Jewish War in a clear and comprehensive way. The only thing lacking in this campaign title is a section on how the soldiers of the opposing armies were trained and armed.

The strength of the Osprey format is also its weakness: at 96 pages, there's no room for anything more than a concise recounting of the highlights of a campaign, always leaving you with just a taste of what's to offer but not the full meal. This is compensated with an abundance of pictures, maps and full-color artwork you (usually) won't find in a regular history book.

The casual reader may know about this Jewish Revolt through "Masada" (1981), the epic four-part television mini-series that was shot on location in Israel, starring Peter O'Toole, Peter Strauss and Barbara Carrera. The title of this review is a quote from that series. The full quote goes: "A victory? What have we won? We've won a rock in the middle of a wasteland, on the shores of a poisoned sea," and was uttered by the Roman warrior Flavius Silva (Peter O'Toole) after the Romans finally take Masada and discover the corpses of the suicides.
For those interested in reading more about this revolt, I recommend "Apocalypse: The Great Jewish Revolt Against Rome AD 66-73" by Neil Faulkner, "Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada And The Fall Of Judea" by Desmond Seward and "Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations" by Martin Goodman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN A WORD EXCELLENT, 3 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign) (Paperback)
An excellent overview to the Jewish revolt AD 66-74. The authors narrative simple and easy to follow, with fine illustrations and map work throughout. Most of the points I was going to highlight have already been made by earlier reviews. Suffice to say this is an exceptional Osprey work. Highly recommended.
THE PERFECT COMPANION TO THIS EXCELLENT WORK IS THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER.Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Jewish Revolt of AD 66-74., 4 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign) (Paperback)
This is a long awaited well written and well researched book on a major historical event.It is also beautifully illustrated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good, solid, albeit necessarily superficial description of fall of ancient Jewish state and the destruction of Second Temple, 20 Nov 2013
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign) (Paperback)
This is a good, solid book describing one of the most heart-breaking tragedies of ancient world - the incredibly bloody, violent and vicious eight years long fight between imperial Rome and Jewish rebels in years 66-74 of Christian era.

As almost all Osprey Campaign this is a short book, counting 96 pages in all - therefore, it can only superficially treat this topic and must be considered more as an introduction to more studies. Still, if all you need is a general idea about this campaign, this book answers this need very nicely. It is well written, to the point, well organized, without useless digressions and progressing chronologically "ab ovo usque ad mala", with every next development logically linked to what precedes and to what follows.

As Jews couldn't meet huge Roman legions in a regular battle in the open, this conflict was first and above anything else a bloody and excruciatingly difficult war of attrition in which the rebels defended successive fortified cities and other strongholds, when in the same time waging guerrilla in the hills. Jews made also a great number of daring sorties during this war, many of which successful. Romans on another hand waged a very methodical occupation + pacification war, besieging and either starving or storming successive Jewish positions and using optimally (well, mostly) their superior numbers and other resources.

Author did a good job on this book, but for obvious reasons he had to rely heavily on Joseph Flavius, whose detailed and colourful account is as biased and flawed as it is unavoidably inescapable... It is a mightily sad thing that the main source of information for this great tragedy of Jewish nation must be the book written by a turncoat renegade sycophant with many an axe to grind...

Maps are clear and good and the illustrations are very honest. The three colour plates by Peter Dennis are very good too, as always with this artist, but I am really surprised that the editor didn't request that one of them describes the final fight inside the Temple itself on 10 August 70, one of the most dramatic, violent, tragic and religiously significant military events in whole ancient history... Pity.

Still, I rate this book five star. It is a very good thing, giving a very solid general idea about this war and preparing well the ground for further studies. For a more detailed book, I warmly recommend "Rome and Jerusalem: the clash of ancient civilizations" by Martin Goodman.
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The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign)
The Jewish Revolt, AD 66-74 (Campaign) by Si Sheppard (Paperback - 20 Oct 2013)
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