on 15 May 2013
Pompey will always play second fiddle to his one time friend - and later rival - Julius Caesar. Having been on the losing side of the Civil War, Pompey's earlier career tends to be overlooked as nothing more than a prelude to Caesar's ultimate glory. So does Pompey deserve title conferred on him by Sulla of 'Magnus' the Great?
Nic Fields does a great job with the material on offer. Trying to condense the life of a towering figure like Pompey into 40+ pages is no mean feat, but Dr. Fields succeeds admirably. He analyses the whole of Pompey's career, from his early years as the 'Teenage butcher' of Sulla's regime to the Civil War era. Most of the emphasis though is on his campaigns in Spain against Quintus Sertorius, the Roman general turned rebel, as well as his famous 'blitzkrieging' of the Mediterranean pirates. Attention is also paid to his Eastern campaigns, from his stealing the victory against Mithridates from Lucullus (something he also did to Crassus during the famous Third Servile War) and his short siege of Jerusalem.
Along the way, Dr. Field's discusses the subject of what makes a good general, with frequent references to the work of the famous Napoleonic era military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz; and whether Pompey fits the criteria. Was he really a great commander or just an egotistical monster with a knack for taking the limelight? Has Pompey's reputation being tarnished by his loss at the hands of Caesar, and does his career deserve a re-evaluation?
The book is a joy to read, and shows how far Dr.Field's prose has come since the rather dry 'Roman Civil Wars: 88-31 BC' (2008). The book also contains a few great colour plates courtesy of Peter Dennis, along with the usual photographs, diagrams and maps that come with Osprey titles. All in all this an excellent short introduction to this fascinating figure of the late Roman Republi. Highly Recommended