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on 3 May 2005
There is no better way of learning about Ancient Rome than to go the historians who lived in it. It will be very surprising to those not accustomed to reading ancient authors how approachable Livy's books are. Livy had a knack for telling a good story, and the ancient practice of re-creating, and in some cases, inventing speeches for key characters to deliver at key moments, is surprisingly effective. In fact, there is much wisdom in such a practice, for through such speeches we get the more subjective, emotional reality behind events. We could use some of that in our contemporary historical writing, which tends be very fact-based and yet missing the very important emotional context. Take the Iraqi war, for example. No doubt the history books will be full of data about its causes, but will future readers really understand the emotional context of the US response to 9-11? Would a speech encapsulating the misdirected rage not be helpful in this regard?

Anyway, this book would make a particularly good introduction to the classics, with the grandness of the story being told: This is the one that contains Hannibal's invasion of Italy, crossing the Alps with an international army of mercenaries and a few African elephants. It's a story full of suspense, with the Romans being shoved against the wall of their own home, suffering disaster after disaster, and then overcoming the odds through sheer grit and composure. On the moral side of things, it is difficult not to feel inspired in one personal's life after reading this until the memory of it all fades away--a good reason for getting the prior or next instalment of Livy.
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on 16 July 2000
If you are faintly interested in Roman History, then you should really read this book. It may be over two thousand years old, but it is certainly still alive and kicking! It is chock full of fascinating characters, such as the central, one-eyed battle-hardened Hannibal himself but also all of the Romans who face him - the reckless Minucius, the headstrong Varro and the steadfast and all-knowing Quintus Fabias Maximus. The battle scenes are fascinating and often very exciting, whilst the story of the panic in Rome, including amongst the common Romans as well as the frenzied debates of the Senate, is no less absorbing. Livy also provides us with many fascinating snapshots of Roman religious beliefs and customs along with his military commentaries that to read it is to be transported back to Ancient Rome. The book may be a bit fat and dry sounding, but open it up and you will be pleasantly surprised. Enthralling and totally compelling.
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on 25 January 2012
This is the story of the Second Punic War, and of Rome's most implacable foe: Hannibal Barca. There can be little doubt that the world would be a very different place had Carthage won this war.

In his introduction, Livy writes the following:

"A number of things contributed to give this war its unique character; in the first place, it was fought between peoples unrivalled throughout previous history in material resources, and themselves at the peak of their prosperity and power; secondly, it was a struggle between old antagonists, each of whom had learned, in the first Punic War, to appreciate the military capabilities of the other; thirdly, the final issue hung so much in doubt that the eventual victors came nearer to destruction than their adversaries."

Livy's chronicle of this long and bitter struggle - stretching from the siege of Saguntum in 218BC to Hannibal's final defeat at Zama in 202BC - is a thrilling story. Its depiction of Hannibal is unusual, given the traditional bias of Roman historians towards their enemies. He was clearly an exceptional man, capable of leading armies made up of tens of different nationalities, and of holding them together. But Livy also argues that it was Hannibal's over-confidence, coupled with the intrigues of his political enemies, that led to his eventual downfall.

Livy does not shrink from criticizing his own side. His descriptions of the catastrophic trilogy of Roman defeats (River Trebia, Lake Trasimene, Cannae) read like scathing indictments. His portrayal of the Senate's ineptitude is even more damning. Some passages are very revealing, such as those describing how the Romans built their first war fleet based on a captured Carthaginian vessel. On the other hand, Livy can also engage in outright propaganda. For example, his account of young Scipio's election as curule aedile by universal popular acclaim is totally unbelievable. He generally paints Africanus in a flawless light. Nevertheless, it all makes for an entertaining read.

In sum, "The War With Hannibal" is not to be missed. Aubrey de Selincourt provides an excellent translation of an epic struggle, with all the twists and turns of war.
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on 19 February 2002
It's surprising that more than a millennium after it was written, this history is still fascinating and as enjoyable to read as the most modern book. It explained many present day differences among Italians and gave me a strong sense of "place" that helps me enjoy more fully this 21st century Italy. I originally set out to discover what really happened at nearby Trasimeno, but found I couldn't put the book down until I finished it.
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on 11 April 2005
I bought this book to help me with my Latin AS Level course - and that it certainly did! The translation (from a linguistic point of view) follows the real Latin very closely, making literal translations very easy, whilst making the text sensible and interesting. If you are studying Livy as part of your AQA AS Level Latin course, I highly recommend this book - even if the course will only be around until 2006!
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on 20 October 2001
I have always enjoyed the way Livy can bring characters to life and this book is no exception. The content is fascinating and this translation is very competent.
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on 29 March 2014
The Greatest General defeated by lack of support from his senate. He could have taken Rome after and then we might have had the Catheginian Empire rather than the Roman one.
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on 17 April 2015
If you are interested in Hannibal this is a must. Livy provides a fascinating insight to the Roman commanders during the War with Hannibal.
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on 23 December 2014
My recipients of the roman books love then because they are Americans and know little about them
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on 7 September 2014
Great reading for those who enjoy ancient history.
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