For anyone interested in the origins of Roman military history this is as good a place to start as any. This Osprey title is well researched and does a very good job to illustrate ancient roman warfare from the founding of Rome through the Pyrrhic invasion, 275. The black and white photographs of archaeological sources supplement the text nicely. The book also features 8 colour plates which are excellent, even if the representations are unavoidably a bit more speculative. As said, this book is a good primer for anyone interested in early roman warfare, especially anyone who is looking for a source of reference to support their wargaming or reenactment hobby with some authenticity. Within 48 pages it does that very well and might have all you are looking for. Recommended.
This is a very good basic introduction to the subject - and to be honest, as there isn't that much information to begin with, and greater depth would involve listing small bits of archaeological evidence and going into detailed academic arguments over the interpretation thereof.
The Contents are: P03: Rome's Early History P08: The Pre-hoplite Army .Warrior-burials on the Esquiline Hill; The Salii; Salian dress and equipment; The tribal system P13: The Hoplite Army .Livy's account of the reforms; The Servian 40 century legion; The 60 century legion P18: Early Cavalry .The sex suffragia; The public horse and true cavalry P21: The Expansion of Roman Military Strength .The infantry; Legionary blazons; The cavalry P33: Manipular Warfare .The Gallic invasions; The Cerosa Situla; Samnite warfare; The Manipular army in Livy P42: The Plates P48: Index
I have to admit that more could have been done to explain maniples and cohorts and the various formations; some diagrams would have been useful (and as the font in this volume is VERY BIG, space could have been found by reducing the font size). However, one of the authors has kindly provided a separate Osprey volume on Roman Tactics.
The colour plates are: A: The Earliest Roman Warriors, c. 700 BC. Here we see `Romulus' and `Remus' -two exemplars of what Roman warriors may have looked like, standing over a fallen Etruscan warrior (who is holding a long sword in very dangerous proximity to Remus - maybe it wasn't his brother who killed him after all...). The authors also give an interesting origin for the myth. B: Roman Warrior Bands, seventh century BC. This shows warriors and priests warming up for a battle. C: Horatius at the Bridge, 508 BC. Horatius dressed in a colourful equipage of the period, escaping from Etruscan and Latin hoplites. D: The Venetic Fighting System, fifth century BC. Four figures "representing the various components of the Venetic battle-line" showing the different armament of the successive lines of the formation. E: Roman Hoplites defeated by Celts, fourth century BC. Three fairly uniform Romans being massacred by Celtic warriors. F: Samnite Warriors, c. 293 BC. A member of the `Linen Legion' and five other colourful warriors; a wargaming-figure painter's dream (or nightmare). G: Sacrifice establishing a treaty between Romans and Samnites. Taken from a mosaic discussed in the text, this is a mixture of ceremonial and warrior figures. H: Roman Hastatii fight one of Pyrrhus' elephants. An Indian elephant with driver and three crew in a tower, attacking a group of uniformly-equipped Romans.
This is a set of excellent plates, each one full of colour and informative detail.