The Enemies of Rome: From Hannibal to Attila the Hun Hardcover – 4 Oct 2004
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Truly fascinating and superbly written.... A highly recommended addition.
Truly fascinating and superbly written . A highly recommended addition."
About the Author
Philip Matyszak has a doctorate in Roman history from St John's College, Oxford, and is the author of Chronicle of the Roman Republic.
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Top Customer Reviews
Briefly, the author sketches short biographies of some of the most notorious figures in the Empire's history, starting with Hannibal and ending with Attila the Hun. Despite the relative brevity of each portrait, I think readers will be able to engage with each 'character' in a way that isn't really possible with most of the heavier, academic-type books. Notably, the author also avoids that tiresome critisism and revisionism thing that bedevils far too many books on this subject, only ever introducing doubt about his ancient sources in a constructive and unobtrusive manner.
This is uncomplicated, straightforward and non-controversial stuff.
As I say, this is ideal for the generalist, armchair historian interested in the basics and could even provide the stimulus for really 'getting serious' about Roman history too.
There is a quote at the beginning of this book that made it almost compulsory reading for me.
It points out how we often view The Roman Empire as a civilisation far more advanced than any other nation of its era based upon the wonders it has left behind. What we do not know or forget though is there were nations and peoples of the same era that may have been equally as advanced but were obliterated at the Roman sword. The Celts, Dacians, and Carthagians to name but a few! Who knows what mark they could have left if they were not repressed by the Romans.
This book is very light yet consuming read based on some of the individuals who stood against the military might that was Rome. Boudica, Vercingtorix, Jugurtha, Cleopatra, Mithridates and of course Hannibal all get a chapter, not to mention another dozen or so as well.
Like previous reviews have stated do not expect detailed views on the various nations led by the people mentioned, but do expect to enrich your own learning and perhaps get a point of view you had not expected.
I've read many individual books over the years on the wars and enemies covered in this single book, and whenever I move on to a new subject of history I do the above each time to make sure i'm not missing anything interesting.
That said, this is a good foundation for the topic covered. If you read this cover to cover you will have a good overview of what made Rome great and how its military institutions were the glue of the state, and the pivotal aspect of all it achieved.
The authors style is very easy to read, it's not heavy going and if like me you tend to put a book down and not pick it up again for a few days; you'll find it easy to get back in to this as the layout is very concise and logical.
The only thing that stops me giving it a higher score is the fact some of the periods covered such as the Punic wars cant be given justice in the summary style, and I dont think it gives the reader enough scope of how epic these conflicts truly were.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Book is great it tells you the facts in an interesting way and told me a person who has read a few books before about the Romans a lot of things that I never new before,... Read morePublished on 4 Nov. 2012 by j e simmonds
The sheer success and longevity of the Roman empire has meant that history tends to be very skewed towards Rome's achievements and legacy. Read morePublished on 6 Jun. 2011 by CorkRebel67
In "The Enemies of Rome" Philip Matyszak presents 17 enemies of Rome, who are divided into four groups, corresponding to four different periods:
Hannibal,... Read more