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Customer Review

on 2 July 2003
This book is quite a surprise. It's a bit more 'academic' than your usual Osprey offering but it's very approachable and squeezes in a mass of information about the legions from Julius Caesar to the emperor Vespasian. The text takes the reader from the establishment of the Imperial legions and organisation, through recruitment (mostly conscripts according to Cowan) and training, equipment (here I learn that the gladius was not a short sword!), and ultimatley on to the best section concerning the legionaries in battle. Quotes from ancient sources give a 'soldier's eye view' of battle from the exchange of missiles, to the charge and collision with the enemy, the rout and taking of booty and and adorning victory monuments with the heads of the enemy.
Excepting a few typos this is a fantastic read. The colour plates illuminate the text superbly (especially the plate concerning the Varian disaster; Cowan informs us that all the legionary eagles taken in AD 9 were later recaptured). Essential for anyone wanting to learn more about the legionary.
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