Customer Review

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written and researched., 23 Dec 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Battle That Stopped Rome: Emperor Augustus, Arminius, and the Slaughter of the Legions in the Teutoburg Forest (Hardcover)
From time to time a book come along that reinterprets an element of history and offers a new slant on an old argument. This book does not fall into this category and falls flat at the very first hurdle. Dr Wells borrows heavily from recent works on the Teutoburg battle (and often fails to fully acknowledge his sources). He has decided that contrary to the accepted view that the battle took place over three days, it was all over within one. This would be fine if he at least offered the alternative view and did not disregard a significant chunk of the historical sources in order to bolster his own interpretation.
He also has an awful habit of repeating himself and you will get a terrible sense of déjà vu as you read the same paragraph you know you read a few chapters earlier. For a book on the Teutoburg battle there is woefully little space given over to the event. Wells wastes far too many pages on an amateurish attempt to explain the socio-economic situation in the Roman Empire at the time of the battle. Upon reading these chapters you get the impression Wells has lifted from primary sources without really understanding what he is reading.
At one point he writes a particularly graphic description of the battlefield post-conflict. Sadly his inability read up on the local flora and fauna leads to a rather ridiculous description of local animals, including vultures feasting on the fallen.
If written by a student on Roman history, his text would be worthy of a reasonable grade as it at least shows some evidence that the author has examined the primary sources, but when you take into account the author is supposedly an expert on Roman archaeology and is a professor of Anthropology this book can only be described as an expensive doorstop. If you are interested in the battle , search for texts on the recent archaeological excavations, please, avoid this inaccurate, badly written tome that I very much doubt will ever be regarded as anything other than a joke in the academic world.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Jun 2009 14:36:37 BDT
In fact, the Griffon Vulture only became extinct in Germany in the 18th Century.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Sep 2011 12:43:37 BDT
Indeed, and it is still alive and well in the Austrian Alps.
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