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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disapointing, pompous writing style, and questionable, 23 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Warfare in the Ancient World (Hardcover)
I was disapointed with this title, and in the end gave up on it. A big problem is the rather pompous and jargon-filled writing style, generally with no definition of terms. He regularly uses the phrase "articulated infantry", and states, with no explanation nor justification that the phallanx is less articulated than the legion. Well, OK, we can guess what he's getting at and that this is something to do with tactical flexiblity, or perhaps it's just manoeuverablity, or perhaps just poorer command structure - the term is never defined so you see the difficulty. There is also no real analysis of what is meant. Another example, is the use of "syncretistic" to describe how the Persians took on ideas from other cultures (I think?) - a word I've only ever seen once before in my life, and even after looking it up, found it is usually used in a specific context of religous debates - using this term is pure pretension and conveys no information to the poor reader. More charitably, perhaps he had a bet with his publisher as to which unlikely words he could work in. In another place he states that the Sarissa (spear used in the Phallanx) was "double-pointed" - what on earth is that supposed to mean? Perhaps it's that there's a point on the back end to stick in the ground to better deter cavalry in defence - but that's not explained - or perhaps the front end has a forked point - unlikely but who knows? The explanation of battles and exactly what happened when are very detailed - where's he getting this level of precision from. No references to source, no "perhaps", "we could speculate that", he just knows. These events happend thousands of years ago so this level of certainty is just not plausible.

In mitigation, there is a general narrative summary of events in there somewhere, but still...

Although not direclty part of my review I do find it a little odd that many / most of the glowing reviews are by the author's own students, and by people who have only been moved to review this book and no other.

The second half of the book may have been a finely researched and well-written piece of work, but I didn't get that far so can't tell you.

Hywel
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