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Comment: UK; Osprey Publishing; 2005; 9.90 X 7.20 X 0.10 inches; Paperback; Very Good; Good to very good in paperback-clean copy -no markings; 64 Pages
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Siege Warfare in the Roman World: 146 BC-AD 378 (Elite) Paperback – 8 May 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (8 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841767824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841767826
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.4 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 696,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Duncan B Campbell is a specialist in ancient Greek and Roman warfare. He published his first paper in 1984, as an undergraduate at Glasgow University, and produced a complete re-assessment of Roman siegecraft for his PhD. His work has appeared in several international journals over the years, and he has written several books for Osprey including Elite 121: Ancient Siege Warfare. He lives near the Antonine Wall in Scotland with his wife and son. Adam Hook studied graphic design and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specialises in detailed historical reconstructions and has illustrated over 25 Osprey titles on the Aztecs, the Greeks, the American Civil War and the American Revolution. His work features in exhibitions and publications throughout the world.


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Format: Paperback
This must have been a rather difficult Osprey title to write for the author, especially given that siege warfare is, if I remember correctly, his original area of expertise. The topic of Roman siege warfare could have been covered in ten times as many pages and, even then, I am not sure that it would have been dealt with comprehensively. My point here is not to criticise the author who has being given the rather impossible task to present more than five centuries of siege warfare in some 64 pages. Rather, it is to show that, despite being given this "mission impossible", he has managed to come up with something valuable, even if necessarily superficial.

Accordingly, this little book is a collection of vignettes which, although short, manage nevertheless to convey an idea of Roman engineering and siege skills, and how relentless and sophisticated these skills were. Another point is to show that these skills and Roman superiority in this respect were maintained almost to the very end in the West, and way beyond the 5th century in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. While the Germanic armies were not as inept at siege warfare as many may still believe, the book also shows that the Sassanid Persians were the only ones who were really in a position to compete, once the last large Hellenistic monarchy (The Pontic Kingdom of Mithridates) had been defeated.

Some of the vignettes are allegedly better than others, or perhaps should I simply say that I preferred some, largely because I knew very little about the specifics of the sieges that they were summarizing (such as Numantia).

There are however a number of sieges which I wanted to learn much more about, such as the sieges of the Italian wars or those of Hatra.
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Format: Paperback
Duncan B. Campbell has written a series of books on Siege Warfare in Ancient Greece and Rome, covering everything from styles of siege warfare, to artillery and siege machinery.

In this book his main emphasis is on the style and strategy of Roman Siege Warfare. Starting in the Second Century BC, he covers a number of 'case studies' of the typical tactics and strategy of Roman siege warfare, from the Siege of Numantia in 133 BC, to Alesia in 52 BC, to Masada in AD 74 right through to the defence of the city of Adrianople in AD 376.
He also covers numerous other 'lesser known' sieges such as those of the Italian Wars in 91-80 BC and Dura Europus in AD 256.

By covering these sieges, Campbell hopes to demonstrate the typical styles of siege warfare of the period, covering such topics as the 'rules' of siegecraft and the elements of siegecraft including the use of encampment, circumvallation, the siege embankment and the use of siege machinery.

Adam Hook also provides several pages of colour plates. These help demonstrate the appearance and use of the siege weapons and machinery of the time. He also provides some scenes of siege battles including an underground struggle between Roman soldiers and Sassanid mining engineers. These colour plates, as well as the black and white photographs and tactical maps are a great addition to the book.

This is by no means a in-depth look at Roman siegecraft. What it is on the other hand is a great short introduction to the topic, filled with good pictures and easily understandable text.
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