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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good and comprehensive overview and summary
This is a good, and often an excellent summary of the siege of Alesia, but also of Caesar’s Gallic wars to the extent that these provide the background necessary for understanding the siege. The volume follows the usual format of the Campaign series; the introduction is followed by a (very comprehensive) chronology, before comparing the opposing commanders, armies...
Published 5 months ago by JPS

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
slight disappointment not what I expected
Published 1 month ago by patrick forde


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good and comprehensive overview and summary, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) (Paperback)
This is a good, and often an excellent summary of the siege of Alesia, but also of Caesar’s Gallic wars to the extent that these provide the background necessary for understanding the siege. The volume follows the usual format of the Campaign series; the introduction is followed by a (very comprehensive) chronology, before comparing the opposing commanders, armies and plans. This then allows the author to spend the second half of the book (about 45 pages or so) to describe the campaign itself that is the siege of Avaricum, Caesar’s failed assault on Gergovia, his victory in the cavalry battle of Noviodunum and the siege and battles of Alesia.

This book also combines a number of additional good features. These include a rather healthy scepticism for Caesar’s very much self-serving Commentaries while also appreciated how invaluable they are, since they are the main, and often the sole written source. One example of this need for scepticism is the rather incredible figure that Caesar’ come up with for the size of the Gallic relief army that tried to break the siege. They were clearly not in excess of a quarter million fighters, although they probably did outnumber the 50 000 besieging Romans.

Also of value is the analysis of what Caesar actually did – stir up a war, which he then had to win, and use it to justify the conquest of Gaul. This allowed him to compete for supreme power in Rome and made him immensely rich, probably more because of the hundreds of thousands Gallic slaves that flooded the market in Rome than through the (nevertheless considerable amount of) plunder that was obtained. Both his officers and his men benefited from the spoils. In fact, the author clearly shows at what cost came the “Pax Romana”, with various historians estimating that as many as a million Gauls were either killed or enslaved. Even bearing in mind that there is some disagreement on the total size of the population, with estimates ranging between three and six million, if I remember correctly, the scope of the slaughter, enslavement and mass deportation would possibly rank this as something of a genocide in modern terms.

Another point which is well made is that Caesar’s behaviour, however unscrupulous and repulsive it may sound nowadays, was quite typical of that of the Roman aristocrat and warlord of the Republic. Pompey (and Sylla and others before him), had made their fortunes by being victorious in the East (which meant, once again, huge amounts of plunder and huge numbers of slaves to sell). A number of generals (including both Pompey and Caesar) had also been displaying these kinds of activities in Spain since the Second Punic War, and one could go on, and on. What the book does not tell, and what made a difference was the size of the conquered territory and the fact that large areas of Gaul were rather rich and quite prosperous.

Another good feature is to show to what extent the Romans had historically feared the Gauls, and had suffered grievous defeats from the Cimbri and Teutones (which seem to have been Gauls rather than Germans) only half a century before. Also interesting is the fact that despite all the scorn poured onto the Gallic/Celtic “Barbarians”, including by Caesar himself in his commentaries, the Romans – the “great man” included – were generally rather careful (or even scared) when dealing with them. Interestingly, many of the Roman army’s kit have Celtic/Gallic origins, including helmets, chainmail, swords and shields.

A final set of valuable features are the maps, photos and plates, which, when combined with the use of archaeology, make this title into a very good overview and summary. I found the plates simply gorgeous, especially the two showing a night and a day assault on the Roman fortifications with, in the latter case, Caesar having to enter the fray to rally the flagging troops, as he had to do a few times during the career, including at Alesia.

Even the bibliography is rather longer than what is usually found in an Osprey title (two pages instead of the more usual one). One small surprise, however, was to find that while Nic Fields did list a couple of Adrian Goldsworthy’s books (including, of course, his piece on the Roman Army from 100 BC to 100 AD), he did not find it necessary to mention his biography of Julius Caesar. To be fair, however, there are almost a dozen other authors’ biographies which are listed. Five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb overview of the Siege of Alesia., 24 Nov 2014
This review is from: Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) (Paperback)
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beakerCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Another great offering from Osprey and a great narrative from Nic fields a consummate historian. Considering the length of the booklet fields packs in an enormous amount of information.

The very informative text on Caesar's siege of Alesia is backed up with superb artwork by Peter Dennis, maps illustrations.and photographs, highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 11 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) (Paperback)
slight disappointment not what I expected
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) (Paperback)
Excellent book. Delivery or time and as described.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) (Paperback)
Brilliant purchase
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Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269)
Alesia 52 BC (Campaign 269) by Nic Fields (Paperback - 20 Jun 2014)
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