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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good Osprey on the Carthaginian armies, 29 April 2014
JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Carthaginian Warrior 264-146 BC (Paperback)
This is another Osprey title on Carthaginian armies, but this time in the Warrior series and with coverage limited to the time of the Punic Wars.

The contents are somewhat similar to the more recent title just published by Salimbeti, d’Amato and Rava, although they are also a number of interesting differences that make the two titles complementary rather than redundant.

This title, in particular, insists upon what it meant to be a mercenary soldier and barely scraping a living with pay which was at best irregular and allowances for food which were barely sufficient. It also shows how and why Carthage, which at least initially seems to have relied on an army made up of first-class (the Carthaginians from Carthage) and second-class citizens (the levies of the so-called “Libyan-Phoenicians” subjects or “Africans”) switched to an army made up almost entirely of levies from subjects and mercenaries from around the Mediterranean, except for the senior officers and some of the heavy cavalry. Nic Fields clearly outlines the main reasons, which were about economics with the Carthaginians conducting war like a business and wanting to preserve their citizens’ lives which anyway were not very numerous and may have been largely used to make up the crews of the fleet.

Another merit of this title is to devote quite a lot of space to discussing the recruitment, the living conditions and the mentality and psychology of these mercenaries, as far as we can grasp these elements. One particularly interesting insight is to show to what extent these professional soldiers’ loyalty would go to their comrades in arms and, to the extent that they were both competent and charismatic, to their leaders, as evidenced with the Barcas (but also by a few others).

Then there are the plates, for which I had somewhat mixed feelings, unlike some other reviewers. I loved the one showing Xanthippus boosting his fellow mercenary troops’ morale. I very much liked the Carthaginian conscript citizen, of the type raised by Hannibal just before Zama to make up the numbers, or the Spanish caetrati and the Oscan mercenary, although it is somewhat doubtful that this veteran of Hannibal’s army in Italy would still be wearing his traditional armour just before Zama, especially since their general reequipped most (or perhaps even all) his troops with Roman arms and armour.

However, I had a bit more of a problem with the two plates depicting the Crimisos defeat (341 BC) and the destruction of the Carthaginian “Sacred Band”, on the one hand, and the “street fighting” during the fall of Carthage. I did not find either of them very realistic. In the first, the supposedly “elite” heavy infantry are almost all blundering into the river, with hardly any of them fighting any kind of holding action. While this is possible, of course, I could not help thinking this was a bit of a caricature. It somehow did not “ring true” to me, even if this was no more than a subjective impression.

The so-called “street fighting” – which, more accurately, is about fighting on the rooftops - was even more problematic. Here again, the illustrator seems to have gone a bit “overboard” and overdid the “dramatic effects”. All of the surviving Carthaginians are in rags. Most are wounded. Not a single one of them is armoured or wearing any kind of military equipment, apart from the odd helmet, a spear and a couple of swords. The picture, especially when contrasted with the fully equipped Romans just about to slaughter them, would have been perhaps more realistic if a couple of surviving Carthaginian soldiers have been mixed up with the survivors. Here again, however, this is more about personal subjectivity than anything else.

One last comment is perhaps needed to praise the author for his rather excellent little list of references. All the main ones on Carthage and the Punic Wars are there, including Bagnall, Lazenby, Lancel and Goldsworthy bar one. This missing one is “Carthage must be destroyed”, first published in March 2010, some six months before this title was released. Four solid stars, but not quite five.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A long overdue title arrives, 16 Nov. 2010
Ben Kane (Nr Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Carthaginian Warrior 264-146 BC (Paperback)
Thankfully, a relative wealth of knowledge about Rome and its armies has come down to us today. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Carthage and its military. It is no surprise, therefore, that textbooks about Carthaginian soldiers are as rare as hen's teeth. There simply isn't much information to be had. Frustrating, but there it is.

In my opinion, this new volume from Osprey does well in laying out what is known in a presentable, understandable way. We are told the reasons for Carthage's armies being made up primarily of levies or mercenaries rather than citizens. The areas from which the soldiers came. Their weapons, equipment food and pay. What made a man become a mercenary, and what it might have been like.

As ever in Osprey books, the illustrations (by Steve Noon) are excellent. The picture on the cover, of the Spartan general Xanthippos addressing his Carthaginian troops, is particularly good. It's a shame that there weren't more! For those who are interested, there are some excellent illustrations of Carthaginian soldiers in Warfare in the Classical World, which is a top class text in itself.

My only gripe with this volume was that it felt frustrating reading about Carthaginian soldiers under the various heading of weapons, equipment etc. rather than giving each class of soldier their own section which would have described everything about that particular type of warrior.

Ben Kane, author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good reference book., 11 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Carthaginian Warrior 264-146 BC (Paperback)
The perfect gift for all history buffs is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
This entry in Osprey's Warrior series looks at the armies of Carthage during the long Punic Wars, a period that saw half a century of war between Rome and Carthage, as well as conflicts in Spain and a dangerous mercenary rebellion on Carthage's home ground.

Fields covers a wide range of topics, from the constitution of Carthage to the daily diet of her soldiers, and how they were recruited, trained and equipped.

Carthage fought a long series of wars against the Greeks of Sicily in which the citizens of Carthage played a major part, but by the start of the First Punic War and the period covered by this book Carthage's armies were almost entirely made up of mercenaries and allies, with strong contingents from Africa and Iberia. As a result this book has to cover quite a lot of ground, looking at the individual fighting skills and tactics of many different ethnic groups.

This offering is probably best used as a reference book to a more in depth work on the Punic Wars or other conflicts involving Carthage, providing the sort of background information that is often missing in narrative histories of the wars.

The colour plates by Steve noon are superb, complemented by excellent colour photos and an interesting strong flowing narrative by Nic Fields. Recommended.
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Carthaginian Warrior 264-146 BC
Carthaginian Warrior 264-146 BC by Nic Fields (Paperback - 10 Sept. 2010)
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