This exceptional book focuses on what is known about the life of Scipio Africanus, who has been acclaimed by many historians as one of the greatest generals of antiquity if not of all time. Using clearly identified ancient sources as well as modern scholarship, the author has reconstructed the highlights of Scipio's life - both military and political.
In discussing Scipio's military campaigns, the author has provided very detailed descriptions of the armies involved, weapons used, battle strategies and ultimate outcomes. Where the ancient sources differ on some issues or describe events that are unlikely if not impossible, the author offers speculation as to what really happened; this is based on the analyses of other historian as well as his own personal views. The book's final chapter is an attempt at putting into perspective Scipio's qualities as a great general.
The author is very clear, careful and detailed in his prose - something that is essential when describing battle scenes. He writes in a style that is at once generally lively, serious, widely accessible and often quite gripping. Although this excellent work may be enjoyed by anyone, it should be of particular interest to history enthusiasts, especially those with a penchant for Ancient Roman military history.
Gabriel sets out to compare and contrast the practices of Hannibal and Scipio. Hannibal is the master tactician. Hannibal`s tactics, are still used and studied in modern warfare. But where Hannibal was at fault, was in regards to his over all strategy. This lack of over all strategy, would end up being the downfall of Hannibal.
Scipio was exceptional in both tactics and strategy. Scipio transforms the Roman army, and adopts the newer tactics used by Hannibal. But Scipio also develops a strategy, that enables the Romans to conquer the rival Carthaginians. Gabriel explains the process, that Scipio went through to transform the Roman army. He details how Scipio set out to destroy Hannibal`s army and the entire Carthaginian empire. Scipio combines both military tactics and an over strategy to win the Punic wars.
Gabriel is a very well read military historian. Anyone with an appreciation of military history, will enjoy this book.
on November 14, 2010
I probably shouldn't be writing this, as I haven't read the book! But I'm ordering it immediately.
All I wanted to say was that I am intrigued by the debate over whether Hannibal or Scipio was the better of the two. I'm a Romanophile and so my sympathies are with Scipio, and I was very gratified to read Liddell Hart's biography in which he emphatically declares Scipio to be the greater (greater than not only Hannibal, but also Napoleon!). Nonetheless, I'm aware that there are equally emphatic opinions to the contrary, and until I discovered this book, I was under the impression that the weight of opinion was pretty decidedly resolved in Hannibal's favour.
I'm glad to see that the debate continues, and I can't wait to read this book!