Top positive review
One person found this helpful
A good, solid, albeit necessarily superficial description of fall of ancient Jewish state and the destruction of Second Temple
on 20 November 2013
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.