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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 November 2012
I was a bit surprised by the two types of - not necessarily consistent - criticism that this Osprey title has attracted. In my view, it is one of the better ones in the ever expanding collection of titles.

The first criticism, found on Amazon.co.uk, was to take this little volume and its author to task because it is "academic". It is, but then these titles are meant to be about a historical campaign and I have never expected them to read like historical novels. That does not seem to the intention of the collection and it is probably not what they are supposed to be. In addition, the criticism of being "academic" seems somewhat harsh and perhaps a bit unfair. I am not quite sure that readers would find many pictures of re-enactors in Roman arms and armour in a so-called "academic" book on the Roman Army, for instance.

The second criticism, this time to be found in reviews on Amazon.com, was to say that "there was nothing new" in the book or that there was lots of padding. These two are perhaps even more unfair.

It is rather difficult, not to say quite impossible, to write something about the Boudicca rebellion without, beforehand, providing context. This is something that all Osprey campaign titles do, or, to be accurate, all of the ones that I have read (meaning several dozen although I stopped counting a long time ago). So, unsurprisingly, the reader will get treated to a summary of the first contacts with the Romans, of the Roman invasion, of the conquest and of the Romans in Britain from AD 43 onwards.

There may be a point about the padding however. The introduction and the last section of the book contain what I would rather have put under the broad term of "general considerations and generalities" on war (in the introduction) and on "lost causes" that become legends. If this is what is alluded to, then I definitely agree. This is a bit of a problem because it does not seem to add much to the book. It even feels somewhat lame and unnecessary and it could easily have been avoided.

I cannot agree, however, with those that criticise an Osprey title because it provides "nothing new". Few (meaning "none to my knowledge") Osprey Campaign titles do, partly because of their limited format and partly because this does not seem to be their objective anyway. Rather, they are meant to present in an entertaining but concise and affordable format a comprehensive summary of a historical campaign. Besides, the topic itself - the Boudicca rebellion - is anything but original: dozens of "academic" books and articles have been published on this event and perhaps as many novels. Being original while writing a piece of history in a way that is very concise, entertaining and accessible to all therefore becomes something like "Mission Impossible" and it is not even the intention to begin with.

Despite the first couple of pages and parts of the last section, I found that this was a good and solid title. I was perhaps not among the very best, but it ticked most of my boxes. You do get a rather good explanation of the causes of the rebellion, both in the section on "A tale of two communities" and in the section on the storming of Coldchester-Camulodunum (where you are treated with a nice presentation of the coloniae, of their functions, and how they were generally founded. The land was grabbed by the victors from the vanquished and given to the veteran legionaries as they retired. Unsurprisingly, the surviving locals did not appreciate too much. The sections on opposing commanders, armies and plans are also standard. Not stellar perhaps, but good and containing probably all of the main elements that a reader with little or no previous background in the period needs to know to fully understand the campaign itself. The destruction of the three main Roman settlements are then presented one after the other in chronological order, followed by what was happening with the main Roman force fighting off in Wales and busy conquering Mona- Anglesey. It is only after this (as of page 66) that we get to the main battle and the crushing Roman victory, the victory of methodical and ruthless order and discipline against a much higher number of "rebels" (according to the Romans, of course) who lacked discipline and over which the same kind of control could simply not be exercised by the Iceni Queen.

There is perhaps one thing that could be a bit of a problem, although it was difficult to nail down. The impression I got when reading the piece on the battle was that the Britons did not stand a chance. It is purely subjective, but it made me wonder. To some extent, Boudicca seems to have been completely out-generalled. She was forced to fight on a battlefield chosen by her enemy and under conditions that negated almost all of her advantages, in particular the advantage in numbers. The fight, however, seems to have bitter, hard and possibly quite long. It does not seem to have been a walk-over for the Romans although the book, at times, did give me this impression.

On top of all this, the reader is treated to a rather nice collection of plates. Some - the last stand of the veterans in Claudius' temple at Camulodunum and the ambush and destruction of Cerialis' detachment of the 9th Legion Hispana - were particularly good. The first of the two and the photos of the skulls found during excavations at that colony were somewhat original, for me at least. So, worth four stars, but not five.
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on 12 March 2015
I read this whilst in Norfol and visiting a few hill forts. The best bit is the pick of Stonea Camp which inspired me to go and what a great sight it is. Fairly tecnhical book with an odd writing style and I suspect some of his comments are questionable and non mainstream. Gives an idea of what happened, and his guess is as good as any, but ultimately could be done in a less convoluted and simplitisc style. The drawings are o-level standard too. Glad I read this part of history though
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Depending what you watch and when you watch it depends upon the details that are given to do with the Boudicca uprising of 60-61 AD. Whilst some concentrate purely on the warrior queen, others tend to stick with the Roman Legions and whilst a number of the details are the same, they can vary greatly depending on the sources cited by the presenter or historian.

What this title by Nic Fields does is take the reader by the hand, present the events of the time in a clear concise manner and above all else presents the reader with the facts in such a way that they can follow and comprehend without being coloured one way or the other. Add to this great illustrations, maps to help bring the details to life and you have a book that is a wonderful read as well as a great addition to your shelves.
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on 11 January 2012
This is the first Osprey I've bought in a while that hasn't disappointed on some level. It features well drawn, if a little busy, illustrations. a concise authoritative text, bringing together the classical accounts with relevant archaeological evidence and new thinking on the warfare of the period.
Well worth a punt.
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on 31 May 2014
This is a slim book, inexpensive but looks it. The subject matter was well explained, interesting, and fairly thorough bearing in mind that it is not an in-depth academic exploration of all the surrounding issues. I enjoyed it but would have appreciated a bit more speculation about motives and background and especially more on the perceived personality of Boudicca and her girls and on how and where their demise might have come.
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on 13 April 2011
I've got over 50 Osprey books, many of them 'campaign' books, so I have got to know the format and feel of these. This is the first Nik Fields book I've read and I think that it will be my last, mostly because its too much of an academic style of book and not one I've come to know and love from Osprey.

Lets be honest, Osprey books are about the subject in question, in this instance Boudicca's rebellion, and not one of these tomes intended for students wanting to obtain degrees in the history genre. So it is with some dismay I saw that this book delved far too much into the evidence-type of background, similar to academians in their large books putting forward their evidence for this and that. The actual 'action', if one could say that there was any in here, was restricted to a few pages and then 2/3rds of the way through.

In fact very little was given over to the action. Having just read the Teutoberger Wald campaign book, this one came as a nasty surprise. Also Nik isn't the greatest writer; too many times he began a paragraph with the word 'Anyway', and its repetition added to my irritation. There were a couple of badly worded sentences too. Both these faults could have and should have been corrected with the editing, but this seems to have gone awry.

Another irritating feature was Nik Fields' use of the Roman and English spelling of a place, e.g. London-Londinium and Colchester-Camulodinum etc. For heaven's sake, this isn't the BBC which is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Assume please we're capable of knowing Verulaminium is St.Albans (particularly as it can be explained at the start) rather than constantly put both in every time a place is referred to.

Also another unnecessary feature is the constant insertion of references to text books during the main text of this book. Surely just by putting a number against a quote or sentence is sufficient, rather than, for example (and I quote), "...outlawed altogether by Claudius (Pliny Historia Naturalis 30.4.13, Suetonius Claudius 25.5)." This book is stuffed dull of these distracting references and its like driving down a road full of speed bumps. You constantly have to pause, stop, then resume your reading. Its not a smooth read and eventually you lose the will to live.

This could be a very interesting and exciting book but to my mind has been ruined by poor editing, poor content and the swing from the accepted and loved format of Osprey books to a more academic and dry format where the assembling of evidence is more important than discussing the actual campaign. If the Osprey Teutoburger Wald campaign book can be done without this awful way of putting a book together then it surely can be done here. The fault isn't the lack of 'evidence', its the author. If Osprey is not to go down the route of presenting tomes stuffed full of archaeological facts and evidence collected so forth, then please either have a word with Mr Fields or otherwise dispense with his services entirely.
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on 24 June 2012
This book was a gift for my brother who has a passion for British history,he rated this book highly enjoyed the read and the information that it gave, well written would appeal to all ages, many thanks
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on 19 November 2011
Boudica still remains Norfolk's own best heroine. This is an excellent book, not academic in style and short at only 96 pages. The book is well organised, featuring chapters on the commanders, the armies and their plans, each with a section on the rebels and then the Romans. It is clear that the author understands military affairs - he served in the Royal Marines before becoming turning his mind to ancient warfare. Norfolk readers will enjoy reading about the campaign when Boudica swept south razing Colchester to the ground and moving on to London an `embryonic town (which) was on its way to becoming what it is now, a city of consumers, of people who are profoundly civilised but not primarily useful'.

The action part of the book rounds off by analysing the dreadful error of the perhaps over-confident Boudica in chasing the Roman army into a well laid trap somewhere in the Midlands where her army was annihilated. Finally there is a review of the aftermath from how the Romans took their revenge through to Boudica's re-adoption as a namesake of the later Queen Victoria. The whole book is well illustrated, well referenced and an excellent read.
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on 12 June 2012
A wonderful product and all of osprey, magnificent illustrations, though few, easy and entertaining reading.
An excellent work and all to which we are accustomed to the publisher.
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on 17 February 2013
I like these historical osprey titles. You always seem to pick up on little snippets of info that get overlooked. The illustrations a very stimulating too.
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