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Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors, and Warfare in the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome

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This superbly illustrated volume traces the evolution of the art of warfare in the Greek and Roman worlds between 1600 B.C. and A.D. 800, from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the fall of Ravenna and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. John Warry tells of an age of great military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar - men whose fea This superbly illustrated volume traces the evolution of the art of warfare in the Greek and Roman worlds between 1600 B.C. and A.D. 800, from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the fall of Ravenna and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. John Warry tells of an age of great military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar - men whose feats of generalship still provide material for discussion and admiration in the military academies of the world. The text is complemented by a running chronology, 16 maps, 50 newly researched battle plans and tactical diagrams, and 125 photographs, 65 of them in color.


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This superbly illustrated volume traces the evolution of the art of warfare in the Greek and Roman worlds between 1600 B.C. and A.D. 800, from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the fall of Ravenna and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. John Warry tells of an age of great military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar - men whose fea This superbly illustrated volume traces the evolution of the art of warfare in the Greek and Roman worlds between 1600 B.C. and A.D. 800, from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the fall of Ravenna and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. John Warry tells of an age of great military commanders such as Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar - men whose feats of generalship still provide material for discussion and admiration in the military academies of the world. The text is complemented by a running chronology, 16 maps, 50 newly researched battle plans and tactical diagrams, and 125 photographs, 65 of them in color.

30 review for Warfare in the Classical World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons, Warriors, and Warfare in the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pramod Nair

    'Warfare in the Classical World' from John Warry is a useful reference volume for those who want to learn about the art of warfare used by the ancient Greek and Roman armies. By analyzing the major political events and battles from 1600 B.C. and 800 A.D. in an easy to refer chronological order it traces the evolution of the way war was fought right from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The book discusses the political backgrounds, history, soldiers 'Warfare in the Classical World' from John Warry is a useful reference volume for those who want to learn about the art of warfare used by the ancient Greek and Roman armies. By analyzing the major political events and battles from 1600 B.C. and 800 A.D. in an easy to refer chronological order it traces the evolution of the way war was fought right from the rise of Mycenaean civilization to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The book discusses the political backgrounds, history, soldiers and their equipments, tactics employed by various armies, the great military commanders and their campaigns during each period in detail. With illustrations, maps, photos of artifacts and line drawings the book provides detailed information on the weapons, warships, soldiers in their uniform, siege machines and other equipment with comprehensive commentary. The sections, which illustrate various soldiers, troops and warriors of the period like ‘The Persian Troops’, ‘The Archers’, ‘The Thracian Peltast’, ‘Cavalryman’ are detailed with beautiful realistic drawings. Each battle is analyzed with the help of troop statistics, illustrated discussions on the strategies and tactics and weapons and equipments, which gives the reader a comprehensive overview on the topic. The accompanying maps on each section gives insights in to the troop movements and course of battles. The book focuses mainly on the Greek and Roman armies, so the level of detailing invested for their opponent forces are comparatively less. Even though this is a small volume the amount of information that it contains with the detailed battle plans, maps and tactical diagrams and their chronological presentation makes this an excellent starting reference point on warfare of the classical world for anyone who is interested in ancient history or military history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book is a useful overview of warfare, although covering 2400 years (1600 BC – 800 AD) in less than three hundred pages means that, at best, it can give only the highlights of the most important battles, leaders, and tactics. Still, its summaries are helpful guides through the important engagements. It can serve as a good introduction that leads readers toward searching out books that describe specific battles and generals in depth. The fighting described in Homer’s Illiad, of open lines and This book is a useful overview of warfare, although covering 2400 years (1600 BC – 800 AD) in less than three hundred pages means that, at best, it can give only the highlights of the most important battles, leaders, and tactics. Still, its summaries are helpful guides through the important engagements. It can serve as a good introduction that leads readers toward searching out books that describe specific battles and generals in depth. The fighting described in Homer’s Illiad, of open lines and individual combat, had given way over time to the phalanx, which was well suited to the citizen soldiers of the Greek city states, who trained together and could mobilize quickly. “The phalanx was itself a highly flexible unit, capable of assuming various formations; it could form a square, extend itself into rectangular shape with broadside presented to the enemy, or it could become a solid column, capable of being directed either head-on or inclined at an angle against the enemy battle-line. In addition, it could adopt a wedge or arrow-head formation.” (p. 99) A good book that uses modern science to examine the tactics and employment of the phalanx is Christopher Matthews’s A Storm of Spears. John Warry’s understanding of ancient history is excellent, and he is able to provide insights into the ancient societies which help place events in context, such as the Athenians generally behaved with greater brutality than other Greek states. They had been the heroes of the Persian Wars, but they were the villains of the Peloponnesian War. Particularly in the final stages, when they feared the growth of Spartan naval power, they reacted with ruthless savagery. The Assembly ordered that mercenary rowers captured in enemy service should have their right hands cut off. The Athenian commander Pilocles, himself executed with the rest after Aegospotami, had directed that the crews of two captured triremes should be thrown over a cliff. (p. 69) To create this brief history, Warry was forced to make choices about which battles he would include, and therefore gives short shrift to some of the most memorable moments in history. His recounting of the Athenian invasion of Sicily is correct as an outline, but misses the drama of the conflict. The two chapters in Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War that cover this battle are among the most powerful history I have ever read. With the arrival of Philip and then Alexander armies were enlarged with new types of troops and weapons, particularly auxiliaries such as slingers and archers, as well as sophisticated siege weapons and even elephants. By then war had stopped being a part time job that farmers and craftsmen could do for a few months as needed, and became a full time profession. The mercenaries were capable and well trained, but often unreliable since they fought for whoever paid them the most. Except for a small nucleus of Macedonians who perhaps felt themselves to be united with their leaders by a tie of common nationality, the armies of Alexander’s successors depended mainly on mercenaries; this fact goes far to explaining why the wars which they fought were usually so inconclusive. A mercenary force possessed of the baggage train of a defeated army – let alone a town or territory which had sheltered the enemy – in its preoccupation with plunder would have little incentive to follow up a victor or pursue fugitives. Indeed, it was hardly in the mercenary’s interest to eliminate the opposing forces completely. By so doing, he would have deprived himself of employment and so a living (p. 121) The Hellenistic age saw Alexander’s empire divided up into various nation states constantly at war with one another, and in time Rome would defeat and absorb them all. The book has a good discussion of the Punic Wars; the Mediterranean, while vast, was not large enough for two great empires, and it was inevitable that Rome and Carthage would fight to the death. “A remarkable feature of the Punic Wars was that Rome, with virtually no naval tradition, contrived to dominate the seas almost throughout, while Carthage, which was by comparison an unmilitary power relying on mercenary armies, produced two supremely brilliant generals in the person of Hamilcar and Hannibal.” (p. 154) Once Carthage lost control of the sea it was doomed. Its land forces were small and relied heavily on mercenaries, and with the exception of Hannibal and Hamilcar, Rome had the better generals. Rome’s own rise to empire meant the end of its Republic. In order to rule Rome had to dominate, and to dominate it had to be merciless and ruthless. In the preceding century, Roman standards of honour had won the respect of Pyrrhus, who was a chivalrous character if nothing else. By the end of the second century BC, however, Rome had been obliged to deal frequently with barbarous foes who not only found it inconvenient to honour solemn undertakings – as civilized politicians often find it – but freely entered into undertaking which they had no intention of honouring. In a wider and more wicked world, the Romans fought their enemies cynically with the own treacherous weapons (p. 170) Eventually the Republic would collapse under the weight of constant infighting. The great noble families were casualties of Sulla and by the time Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon many Romans were happy to give up democracy in exchange for peace and order. The conspirators by whose swords Caesar died at a meeting of the Senate in 44 BC were old-fashioned constitutionalists. They were extremely stupid men. They could not see that a constitution which needed to be upheld entirely by military force was no constitution. It had been Pompey’s weakness that he made too many concessions to constitutional appearances; Caesar was murdered because he made too few. But military power was the only real basis of authority in Rome during the first century BC. (p. 234) The book has and excellent discussion of the fighting with Pompey, Augustus, Brutus and the others, and the recounting of the Battle of Actium is a fine summary of the action. Once his adversaries had been cleared out it was time for the empire, although Augustus never called himself emperor; he was Princeps, or First Citizen, and he set about the business of restoring order. “[Augustus] presided over an exhausted world, which had reluctantly realized that law and order can be worth more than liberty, and that authority was destined in the foreseeable future to be based on military power, whatever constitutional forms were adopted. “(p. 254) The empire expanded, eventually stretching from Britain to Persia, from North Africa to the Rhine, but in the end the waves of barbarians were unstoppable. Rome was able to buy some time by offering some of the tribes foederati status, where they could receive some benefits of Roman citizenship in exchange for military service defending the frontiers, but eventually they realized that they didn’t need to be mere soldiers if they could be conquerors themselves. One by one the provinces fell to tribes seeking territorial conquest to set up their own nations: the Goths, Vandals, Franks, Saxons, Alans, Lombards, and a dozen minor groups, and then eventually the Huns rode west, looking not for territory but pillage. “The Roman Empire in the West had virtually run its course by the end of the fifth century AD, not so much conquered as absorbed by the barbarians.” (p. 275) With the decline in the West, the focus of empire shifted to the East, and Constantinople, which was always fractious and constantly struggled to maintain its authority. “In Constantinople, opinion became war-cries, indicative of allegiances. If you backed the green charioteer in the circus, you believed certain things about the relationship of the Father to the Son and at the same time favoured one branch of the imperial family rather an another.” (p. 278) Eventually the Muslim conquest of the Levant 634-638 would put the Eastern empire constantly on the defensive. The crusades would regain some territory for a time, but western kingdoms regarded Constantinople as almost as big a threat as the Muslims. By then the classical world was dead, and the medieval age had dawned, bringing new weapons and tactics.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    If, in reading a passage of Greek or Roman history, you find yourself growing bored, chances are, it is because you do not really understand what was going on. While pages of troop movements and the names of officers might seem dull to you, I can assure that to some people, these things have meaning. In fact, they can be downright fascinating. In hopes of becoming more easily fascinated, I was glad to find an edition of this book came free with my burger at The Traveler (along with the Odes of Ho If, in reading a passage of Greek or Roman history, you find yourself growing bored, chances are, it is because you do not really understand what was going on. While pages of troop movements and the names of officers might seem dull to you, I can assure that to some people, these things have meaning. In fact, they can be downright fascinating. In hopes of becoming more easily fascinated, I was glad to find an edition of this book came free with my burger at The Traveler (along with the Odes of Horace, and I'm always happy that the taste of the clientele there means that the potboilers move like hotcakes but there are always histories and the scant copy of 'The Sadeian Woman' waiting for me). I was excited to learn all about flanks and cataphracts and cavalry manouvers, but before we even get to that, Warry always gives a list of major sources, which couldn't please me more. I always enjoy having someone in the field let me know what it is worth my time to read, as it saves a lot of searching. Nor was I disappointed when at last, the cataphracts appeared. This took several chapters, since the book is nicely laid out by period, which makes it helpful as a companion piece. Whether you're about to tackle Caesar's 'Conquest of Gaul' or Thucidydes account of the Pelopenesian War, just turn to the chapter of interest and you'll find a rundown of events and analysis of the units, equipment, and tactics involved. Warry even throws in a few jokes here or there, and some of those amusing historical anecdotes which no scholar can resist. His style is clear and entertaining, and while he admits that this book is little more than a primer, sometimes, that's what I'm looking for. Apparently, the original version of this book was illustrated, but the cheap Barnes & Noble edition I happened upon was not, even though a lone reference remains guiding the reader to a figure which does not exist. And that's not the only typographical problem with that particular edition, but I'm hardly complaining. Even without the pictures, the book is a useful and informative companion piece to studies of Classical Rome and Greece.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Mr. Warry has truly challenged my reviewing skills with this book. This book was wonderful to read, yet maddening in many ways. At times I wanted to throw the book over some seriously poor editing and spelling, yet would find pages of absolute brilliance that would make me want to add this book to my "Best Books" shelves and hand it 5 Stars. Frustrations will occur due to the nature of the book; it covers a large period of time so it can only bring into focus bits and pieces of what the author t Mr. Warry has truly challenged my reviewing skills with this book. This book was wonderful to read, yet maddening in many ways. At times I wanted to throw the book over some seriously poor editing and spelling, yet would find pages of absolute brilliance that would make me want to add this book to my "Best Books" shelves and hand it 5 Stars. Frustrations will occur due to the nature of the book; it covers a large period of time so it can only bring into focus bits and pieces of what the author thought was critical. The material on the equipment and armies was outstanding, though battles really get limited efforts (maps when available were great though). Eclectic discussion topics like missile weapon development and ship construction were enjoyable and educational. I enjoyed the color plates tremendously; as a wargamer, these pages are critical to aid in army construction and painting. The battle overviews provided are also quite helpful for setup and game table design. I appreciated the chronological approach too. I think it makes sense to go forward though the period this way, so clarity occurs and the changes made more easy to see developing. I also appreciated the solid documentation of references. I would have liked to give this book a 5 Star rating, and yet would feel justified punishing the publishers with a 2 Star for the horrible editing/spelling. Splitting the difference makes this a 3.5 Star rating, and I round up this time because what is good in the book is really well done.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Although it is called an "Encyclopedia," Warfare in the Classical World is set up in typical chronological fashion, covering the time period between the Bronze Age and the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Each chapter describes the ancient sources, and discusses major political events and battles. There are ample hand drawn illustrations of ancient warriors, photos of artifacts and depictions of battles, and maps of battles and wars. There is also a running timeline describing the major events. Although it is called an "Encyclopedia," Warfare in the Classical World is set up in typical chronological fashion, covering the time period between the Bronze Age and the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Each chapter describes the ancient sources, and discusses major political events and battles. There are ample hand drawn illustrations of ancient warriors, photos of artifacts and depictions of battles, and maps of battles and wars. There is also a running timeline describing the major events. Although it's only about 200 pages long, it is very dense, with a lot of detail on individual pieces of equipment and ancient military terminology in Latin and Greek, and replete with names of various commanders and ancient places. It's probably more detail than you would be interested in unless this is really an area of interest, and it is written in a dry, scholarly manner, but it's very informative, and provides a lot more information about why tactics and equipment developed in the way that they did.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    The description of this book appended is accurate. This is indeed a readable, very condensed history of the ancient Graeco-Roman world which focuses on military technologies and practices. Each chapter focuses on a particular period and is usefully prefaced by a review of the classical sources. The deficits of the book are that it is very, very poorly edited--spelling mistakes abound--and lacks maps.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    A great overview of some of the key events, personalities, and military innovations spanning Troy through the declining Roman Empire. My copy was without illustrations, which would have undoubtedly added greatly to the depictions. On the editing side, more missed errors than I would expect from a published book, from spelling inconsistencies, to grammar, to words obviously omitted. Still, very educational and compelling for lovers of history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tirant

    book orginaisation is definately an issue here. The content is interesting, if a bit dated. The Angus McBride illustrations are good as always, and the book would be useful to someone interested in wargaming the eras covered. More detail would be required for someone intending to build a non-roman army based on the information provided.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jason Stuart

    a must have!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Simpson

    Not really an "encyclopedia", but the book does a decent enough job of covering some of the major eras, battles, and personalities of the classical period, even if a lot of major events are left out. The illustrations are quite good, and the descriptions of the battles are surprisingly cogent and easy to follow. My main complaint would be the relatively limited coverage. I would also note that this book was not particularly easy to read on a tablet, but I can't fault a book published in 1995 for Not really an "encyclopedia", but the book does a decent enough job of covering some of the major eras, battles, and personalities of the classical period, even if a lot of major events are left out. The illustrations are quite good, and the descriptions of the battles are surprisingly cogent and easy to follow. My main complaint would be the relatively limited coverage. I would also note that this book was not particularly easy to read on a tablet, but I can't fault a book published in 1995 for not being ideally formatted for tablets/readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Piggyogre

    图文并茂,翔实生动。举例来说,在我迄今读过的书里,没有哪本能把罗马军团的作战体系解释得比这本更清楚的了。

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    This book was so helpful and so interesting. My son said it looked like a textbook, and it is very unimpressive on the outside. But inside is a different story. It takes various different conflicts during the ancient world and breaks them down, with maps and charts of the battle plans, photos of what the area looks like today, statues showing what the main figures looked like, and illustrations of the ships, armor, and weapons involved. Then it details the action. I wasn't able to get through th This book was so helpful and so interesting. My son said it looked like a textbook, and it is very unimpressive on the outside. But inside is a different story. It takes various different conflicts during the ancient world and breaks them down, with maps and charts of the battle plans, photos of what the area looks like today, statues showing what the main figures looked like, and illustrations of the ships, armor, and weapons involved. Then it details the action. I wasn't able to get through the whole thing before I had to return it to the library, but I got through the Greek battles. I'm so glad I found this book! I need to get it again and read about the Roman wars. Definitely recommended for history buffs, students, or those who are reading about the time period and wonder, "What did that look like?"

  13. 4 out of 5

    R.M.F. Brown

    An illustrated encyclopaedia with no illustrations, spelling mistakes galore, and a fixation with the Roman Empire. On the surface, it sounds as though I completely detested this book. Nothing could be further from the truth. Concise summaries, useful insights, and an ability to look at the bigger picture, makes this a standout guide, if like me, you are a beginner to warfare in the classical world. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    I wish I could rate it more highly, but the book is just too uneven. Warry seems bored with subjects outside of the Roman Republic. While discussing The Illiad, he all but ignores other Bronze Age battles that we have far more information about. The shame is when this book is good, it is quite good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hazel

    I can see why students of history like Keely would appreciate this book, and clearly I should have had it at hand when I read The Conquest of Gaul. But at present, I'm just skimming, examining the illustrationsa and reading some sections. This is a good reminder that we haven't changed much in the last couple of thousand years. I can see why students of history like Keely would appreciate this book, and clearly I should have had it at hand when I read The Conquest of Gaul. But at present, I'm just skimming, examining the illustrationsa and reading some sections. This is a good reminder that we haven't changed much in the last couple of thousand years.

  16. 4 out of 5

    WritingWarlock

    Thisbook is the best book on classical warfare I have ever read. It combines accurate illustrations with informative passages to create amazingly helpful explanations. It has given me a wealth of information on Greco-Roman warfare. It has been me main reference on cassical warfare since 2003.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Walt

    There is a lot of information contained in this book. It is written and presnted in the same style as the Osprey Series of warfare books. The illustrations are wonderful and go along with the text in a clear, logical, and user-friendly manner.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Callaghan

    Decent overview of warfare during Greek and Roman times. I made the mistake of getting the paperback version rather than the illustrated hardcover which mean none of the maps were included. I ended up having to go to the library...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    If you're interested in Persian, Greek, Thracian or Roman marshall history this is an easy to read and highly illustrated depiction of the armour, weaponry and lifestyle of the time... If you're interested in Persian, Greek, Thracian or Roman marshall history this is an easy to read and highly illustrated depiction of the armour, weaponry and lifestyle of the time...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    Explores the art of war in the ancient world of Greeks and Romans. Looks at the armies, equipment, and tactics of these empires. This is a decent synopsis of war in the Classical Period.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Art of warfare between 1600 BC and AD 800. Tactics and strategy of the Greeks, Romans and their enemies.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeffry

    Lots of pretty pictures!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    I found this really helpful as a writer because it gave me detail that I needed to create my own fantasy worlds. It would probably be of even more use to historical fiction writers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ambassador116

    Read most of it and skimmed the rest for a school text book. I was in love with the detailed illustrations and the intricate battle plans. Definitely a must read for any student of ancient history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Actually read this one as a direct result of seeing the 300. Good stuff if you're a history buff. Actually read this one as a direct result of seeing the 300. Good stuff if you're a history buff.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stan J. Stratton

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Wang

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wojciech Jaskot

  29. 4 out of 5

    William Shep

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian Joy Africa

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