1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2010
This book is the third in the series of books by Nic Fields on the 'battle orders' of the Roman Army (the previous two centered on the Punic Wars and the Late Republican Civil Wars).
Most of our best ancient sources about the Roman army come from this period, giving Dr. Fields a better opportunity to explain how the army of this period functioned. With that in mind the Roman accounts are still rather hard to interpret, and there is no consensus on how the Legion functioned in the field. That doesn't stop the author from doing a rather good job of piecing the fragments together though.
He describes how the various parts of the legion functioned, from the 8-10 man conturbernium, through to the centuries and the cohorts. He also explains how it was commanded in the field, from the role of the legates, centurions and equestrian officers, to how it marched and fought in battle. Chapters are also devoted to the weapons, armour and tools of the legionaries and auxiliaries, and how the Romans utilised engineering.
Every section has plenty of diagrams which demonstrate the appearance of a legion and how it was organised, while plenty of photographs of museum pieces act as first hand testimony to the weapons and armour of the legions. Maps are also included that show various tactics used by the Romans from famous battles of this era.
The text is simple and easy to understand, but it might be a bit dry for some. Still, if you have an interest in Roman military organisation then this book is a worthy purchase, although I doubt it will be of much use to well read fans of Roman militaria. For those who are only just starting to study this period, this book might act as good introduction that combines some of the research from heavier academic tomes in an easier to digest format, but John Warry's Warfare in the Classical World covers some of the same ground in a much more colourful manner (even if it's a bit dated).