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Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 21 Jul 2011
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books (21 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022663
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,791,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

"Historian Richard Mills, of Cambridge, makes telling use of the latest discoveries yielded by Carthaginian ruins in a splendid, comprehensive effort to present the city-state as a dynamic entity and minimize it as a victimized, second-tier society so often portrayed in the histories of Roman and Western interpreters. Blood-curdling battles receive their pyrrhic due, and Hannibal's trans-Alps adventure and his humbling demise are covered in masterful detail."
-(Newark) "Star-Ledger"

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

"You know a story is great when it grips you even when you know how it turns out ... Miles has written an engaging, richly documented study that merges able storytelling with equally able scholarship. It's quite a tale."
-"Philadelphia Inquirer"

"Historian Richard Mills, of Cambridge, makes telling use of the latest discoveries yielded by Carthaginian ruins in a splendid, comprehensive effort to present the city-state as a dynamic entity and minimize it as a victimized, second-tier society so often portrayed in the histories of Roman and Western interpreters. Blood-curdling battles receive their pyrrhic due, and Hannibal's trans-Alps adventure and his humbling demise are covered in masterful detail."
-(Newark) "Star-Ledger"

""Carthage Must Be Destroyed" is a fine, sweeping survey of the rise and fall of an empire and a glimpse into the diversity of the ancient world."
-"The Wall Street Journal"

About the Author

Richard Miles teaches ancient history at the University of Sydney and is a Fellow-Commoner of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. He has written widely on Punic, Roman, and Vandal North Africa and has directed archaeological excavations in Carthage and Rome. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia, and Cambridge, England.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We all know that Cato was very insistent that Carthage must be destroyed, and that he got his way; but speaking for myself I had very little idea of why he was so bothered about it - or indeed who the citizens of Carthage were (apart from Hannibal and his elephants). This book is a terrific way of filling in those gaps, and I commend it very warmly to anyone with an interest in ancient history.
I was a little hesitant about it, despite its excellent review in the Lit Rev - the combination of the woeful mask on the cover and the knowledge that Richard Miles is a copper bottomed academic raised slight worries that it would be a heavy read. However such worries were ill founded. This is a superbly clearly and engagingly written book which wears its very considerable scholarship commendably lightly. It is also an absolute masterclass in how to deal with a history of the losing side, when sources are all slanted against you. Miles describes the effect over the years of the Rome/Carthage hostility as being like getting one side of a conversation, which is an admirably clear way of describing it! He then uses his sources scrupulously to recreate as fair a picture as can be hoped for of the Carthaginian epoch.
The story which he tells takes us from the origins of Carthage as an outpost of Tyre, through its social and religious roots and its growth to a major power in the Mediterranean, and its gradual weakening and ultimate destruction by Rome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Until the publication of this excellent book, the preeminent text about Carthage was the 1995 volume Carthage: A History by the French historian Serge Lancel. This, an outstanding contribution to the patchy knowledge we have of Carthage, has just been eclipsed. One might think that part of the reason for this is that Carthage Must Be Destroyed did not need to be translated (inevitably, there were some places where Lancel's text became unwieldy). It's far from that: this is a better written, easier to follow, more rounded book than Lancel's.

Miles begins with the Phoenicians, the people who founded Carthage, and goes on from there. His style is at all times enjoyable, and his arguments well presented. Apart from the obvious following of Carthage's history, he goes into great depth about subjects such as the manner in which Hannibal aped the feats of Hercules in order to show that he had divine backing, and how the Romans fought back against this religious propaganda. He also explains in depth how, from the time of the Second Punic War onwards, the Romans made it their business to portray the Carthaginians as untrustworthy, perfidious liars and cheats. This in turn allowed them to show themselves as more heroic and steadfast.

Anyone who is interested in learning the full (well, what is known) details about Carthage and its history, needs to read this book. I for one will be returning to it again and again in the future. In my opinion, leading Lancel's book is also a good idea. Another interesting text is Daily Life in Carthage at the Time of Hannibal by the academic Gilbert Charles-Picard. Although it was written in the 1960s, it has some useful information about Carthaginian culture.

Ben Kane, author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome.
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Format: Hardcover
There's probably not much point in describing the content of this book, as this information is readily available, so I'll concentrate on what I think of how it was delivered:

This book is truely a great read. It's remarkable that this amount of analysis and historiography has been combined with the basic narrative and yet the end product is still so engaging. Of particular interest to me was the coverage of how the Romans saw and spun the justification for their actions in wiping out Carthage, and the evolution of this over time. Ultimately, in reading CMBD I wanted to understand 'all about' ancient Carthage and the Punic wars - now I do and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

In my opinion, Richard Miles' style is as easy to follow as the much acclaimed Tom Holland, albeit with less humour. I'll be pre-ordering his next book 'Ancient Worlds, and happy if it's half as good.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The second half of the title is a little deceiving. Although Miles does in fact give an overview of the history of Carthage from its Phoenician origins to its final destruction by Rome, the book spends much more time examining the Punic wars (about half the total number of pages) than it does the history which preceded them.

The Phoenicians did not leave much of a written record and so most of what we have about them has been written by the winners and is therefore extremely biased. As other reviewers have mentioned, Miles does an excellent job of dissecting the extremely biased primary sources on the Punic wars to try and give us as balanced a picture as possible. His coverage of the Punic Wars is detailed and insightful. Of particular interest is the way in which Miles makes use of both the ancient sources themselves and his extensive knowledge of both Roman and Phoenician culture to probe both the motives behind the the actions of those involved in the wars and the ways in which they justified those actions both to themselves and the outside world. He traces the way both Romans and Carthaginians attempted to appropriate the myths surrounding Hercules to win the ideological war which underpinned the physical one. His exploration of these motivations and justifications is fascinating and is in fact one of the highlights of the book

Overall this is an extremely well-researched and well-written book. It is also an extremely approachable and enjoyable read for the non-expert.
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