Full Version: Review of Philip Sidnell\'s Warhorse
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I happened to browsing Alibris and came across the book and decided to order it.

When it came I sat down and started reading it, it was a very eye-opening and and well researched book.

Using excellent research, experience, and common sense Sidnell conclusively proves that ancient cavalry was not just used for scouting and foraging it also was used for decisive shock action, in many places the tactics used by ancient cavalry would not have been unfamiliar to a cavalryman from the gunpowder age.

Sidnell lucidly and clearly provides the latest information on the Cataphract VS Clibanarii debate, debunks several myths (among which, the Stirrups made Shock Action viable theory) and he writes from a non-biased point of view.

Here and there in the book are a few things I disagree with but none that weaken the factuality of his work.

One common complaint is that there are very few illustrations (and in black and white) however given the choice between good pictures and good content I will choose Content evey time.

Overall: 10/10

Conclusion: This book is a must have for any person interested in ancient military history, and the cavalry of ancient times.
Thankyou, glad you liked it.

Phil Sidnell
Thanks for reading my review Big Grin

Will you be writing anything on the subject?
He already supplied the source material, gee give the guy a

I haven't got around to reading it yet :oops: , but will one day soon.
Quote:Thanks for reading my review Big Grin

Will you be writing anything on the subject?

Do you mean will I be writing anything more on the subject? Well, despite the publisher's blurb on the hardback edition, the practical experimentation for the book was actually very curtailed. I haven't entirely given up on the idea of redoing the book the way it was meant to be done, ie based a lot more on practical experiments. Hardly been on a horse for a few years now (the book was published in 2006) due partly to the time demands of a young family and increasingly to problems with my back and knees, but I am working on another author who is also a stunt rider/trainer and weapons expert so I might just get him to do the dangerous stuff. (He is currently writing a book for me on Horse Archers, which he hope to sell as a TV documentary idea as he is already a well-established presenter/director of those. I intend to have a bit of a go at mounted archery myself during the course of this if I can get back into sufficiently good shape).

I am currently writing another book but it is in a much lighter vein and is basically a collection of the weirdest weapons, tactics etc throughout military history. After that I intend to return to my stalled study of Epaminondas' battles, which does touch on the role of cavalry.

With regards to Warhorse, there are things I wish I had done differently - there should have been maps and tactical diagrams. If I ever get time (don't hold your breath) and if anyone here is interested I might post up some diagrams of my interpretations of the battles in the book. I would have liked to expand on Byzantine cavalry and on the last chapter, but you have to cut off somewhere and it was already years over its deadline.

There is a geographical gaffe in there that makes me cringe everytime I think of it (or some kind soul points it out to me). On p.20 I refer to Scythian tombs found 'buried in the frozen soil below the Ukrainian steppe'. The tombs I had in mind were in fact those at Pazyryk, which of course are in the foothills of the Altai mountains, at the eastern fringe of the Scythian stamping grounds, not in the Ukraine. Shouldn't have slipped through editing and proofreading, but it did. I asked if it could be changed for the paperback edition but the publisher decided it wasn't worth the effort.

If I reread it now I would probably find a scattering of things that I would now think were over-stated or over-simplified, or where I could have drawn on more recent evidence, on the whole though I am still happy with it and stand by my main points. Thanks again for your nice comments about it. The fact that you enjoyed reading it enough to post a review is very gratifying.


Phil Sidnell
Commissioning Editor (Ancient Warfare)
Pen & Sword Books
Well I wish you all the best on your work and hope it goes well. I look forward to reading more. Big Grin