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Accuracy of osprey books
#1
Hey everyone. As a relative newbie to roman military history I am very interested in getting hold of a wide variety of books on the subject. I have read some connolly and goldsworthy ( unfortunately these were not mine ) and enjoyed them immensely.

My question is relating to the various osprey books as they seem to be well illustrated along with the text. The only thing that would put me off is if the information was incorrect. Can someone please advise me on the quality of information in the osprey series please ?. Thanks.
Greg Eyles
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#2
Quote:Hey everyone. As a relative newbie to roman military history I am very interested in getting hold of a wide variety of books on the subject. I have read some connolly and goldsworthy ( unfortunately these were not mine ) and enjoyed them immensely.

My question is relating to the various osprey books as they seem to be well illustrated along with the text. The only thing that would put me off is if the information was incorrect. Can someone please advise me on the quality of information in the osprey series please ?. Thanks.

My opinion: They make a good teaser. They're good to have around at events for people to browse through, and for newcomers to get the basics, and see which direction they want to go. However, those colorful pretty pictures cost money to print. Often times the original source books which the Osprey have drawn from can be found cheaper, and contain more information.

They have their place, but I wouldn't use them as the anchor for my collection. That being said, I own slightly more than a dozen of them. Mostly of the "Enemies of Rome" series, because I just don't have enough time to dig in depth into that subject, and the Osprey books have a good overview.

My two cents. Put 'em in the bank or throw them away.
Marcus Julius Germanus
m.k.a. Brian Biesemeyer
S.P.Q.A.
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#3
Ditto to what Brian said. I think they're good gateway books. If the author knows his topic well (a few of them frequent this forum in fact) then they're more than worth the money. Think of them as gateway books. They'll lead to thicker and thicker ones which of course cost more money lol.

As a reenactor they're a great resource, they supply good information to do an impression and usually come with illustrations or pictures of original artifacts.

But like anything else, get your info from more than once source, and then form your own opinions but keep your mind open.

Welcome to the forum Greg!
____________________________________________________________
Magnus/Matt
Du Courage Viens La Verité

Legion: TBD
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#4
Thanks for the feedback guy's. As previously mentioned I have read connolly and goldsworthy ( also john warry's warfare in the classical world ) and found them to be very informative an in-depth. Is their any other authors you would recommend ?.
Greg Eyles
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#5
I would agree that the Osprey books are a good place to begin. I too have a number of them. When consulting them for information though, be aware that some of them were published some time ago ('The Roman Army from Hadrian to Constantine', for example is now nearly thirty years old) and Osprey do not generally issue new editions with updated information, so often they will contain theories which have since been overtaken with newer ideas and will not be as up to date as some more recently published books. Bearing this in mind however, as I said, they are a good place to start.

I would also heartily recommend 'Roman Military Equipment', by MC Bishop and JCN Coulston (normally refered to around here as 'Bishop and Coulston' or simply B&C2 [second edition]). Mike Bishop can often be found on RAT as well and is normally very helpful with information. His website is also worth visiting.
http://www.mcbishop.co.uk/

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.romanarmy.net">www.romanarmy.net
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#6
Quote:Thanks for the feedback guy's. As previously mentioned I have read connolly and goldsworthy ( also john warry's warfare in the classical world ) and found them to be very informative an in-depth. Is their any other authors you would recommend ?.

As another relative newbie to Roman studies, could you give the titles of the books you mention?

Thanks
Gaius Aurelius Bassus
(MKA: Winter Guite)
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#7
for example:

graham sumner - roman military clothing 1-3
michael simkins - the roman army from caesar to trajan/ hadrian to constantine
ross cowan - roman legionary 58 bc - ad 69 and 161-284
.
.
.
I especially like connolly - greece and roma at war but I think it's niot from osprey
MARCVS DECIVS / Matthias Wagner
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#8
They are no better or worse than their author or illustrator. Some are excellent introductions to a topic with great art, others are decades out of date and with pictures that are only vaguely right. Osprey doesn't select very hard for quality, so ask around or pick ones by a good author (of course, by the time you know which authors are good you may know enough to judge the book yourself Sad ).
Nullis in verba

I have not checked this forum frequently since 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value. I now have a blog on books, swords, and the curious things humans do with them.
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#9
Quote:They are no better or worse than their author or illustrator.
I agree. Several are very good, but Shadows in the Desert. Ancient Persia at War by Kaveh Farrokh is the worst book I have read in about ten years. I am not exaggerating. The author uncritically accept the propaganda of the late Shah (e.g. about the Cyrus Cylinder), quotes biased websites (I'm not going to link to them), ignores the main publications on the Achaemenid Empire (Briant's Histoire de l'Empire perse), and in the end complains that no one appears to be interested in iranology. Guess why?
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#10
I think Osprey books are both a great 'starter' book / 'gateway' book, but also "fun" books - summarized information (depending on particular title/author), for quick and easy reference which you can then use to check and research further in other sources.

I also enjoy Osprey for the artwork, regardless of how 'accurate' some are and/or in older publications. That kind of illustration work can be difficult and frustrating, and under tight deadlines and format.


And noone said you can't write your own notes and corrections in the margins, or add a sheet of paper full of notes and stuff it between pages in the books! 8)
Andy Volpe
"Build a time machine, it would make this [hobby] a lot easier."
https://www.facebook.com/LegionIIICyr/
Legion III Cyrenaica ~ New England U.S.
Higgins Armory Museum 1931-2013 (worked there 2001-2013)
(Collection moved to Worcester Art Museum)
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#11
Good idea Andy! That's a lot more organized than having loose papers with notes kicking around, or a binder full of misc. articles.
____________________________________________________________
Magnus/Matt
Du Courage Viens La Verité

Legion: TBD
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#12
Once in a while Osprey and other publishers are criticized for having poor editors that don't check for a book's accuracy. I should point out that none of my publishers have someone on staff to review the content of their books. I work with university presses and trade publishers. Fact checking may have been something done in the past, but these days production editors check the grammar and that's about it. In an ideal situation the acquisition editor knows a little something on the subject, but they won't be able to comment on a subject as specialized as Roman military equipment of the 1st century BC.

So, as Sean said, publishers are pretty much reliant on the quality of their individual authors. As a reader you can check out the reputation of the authors. Read multiple books on the same subject and you'll start to see what the general consensus is. In high school history was presented as a list of known "facts". It's been really interesting for me to see how much debate there actually is in the academic world!
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.redrampant.com">www.redrampant.com
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#13
Hi Andy,
In the case of university presses, are you sure there's no kind of peer review? That is a very common way to ensure that the book is of decent academic quality.
Greets!

Jasper Oorthuys
Webmaster & Editor, Ancient Warfare magazine
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#14
Quote:Fact checking may have been something done in the past, but these days production editors check the grammar and that's about it.
Same in Holland. I know a book with 250 factual errors, written by a university professor.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#15
As the author of three books published by Osprey, I would like to think they are accurate.

R
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