Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Hannibal\'s Army
I have just acquired Hannibal's Army by Ian Stephenson (Tempus Publishing 2008): ... 268&sr=8-1

This book (according to the rear cover blurb) is a groundbreaking work seeking to give greater coverage and exploration of the Carthaginian Army, mainly during the 2nd Punic War, but also covering the other wars of the period.

In reality it is nothing of the sort.

I was very disappointed with this book. I had waited for it for quite a while, having ordered it from Amazon nearly a year ago, only to find it was either out of print or unavailable for one reason or another. When it finally appeared through the letter box earlier this week I was very pleased ... initially. However, that reaction was short-lived as I got into it, and it isn't a particularly lengthy read.

It falls short in a number of ways which perhaps should not be a surprise. The author sets out to examine and discover what "remains one of the least studied armies in history." He readily admits from the outset that our knowledge is limited and the sources scarce, but you keep expecting him to say, however, new research has established this or that ... but he never does. What he does do is repeat much information about contemporary armies of Roman and Hellenistic times that is well known and readily available. Stephenson does this as a means of putting the Carthaginian forces in context. He keeps qualifying his views by saying 'but first we need to view what everybody else was up to' or words to that effect - then he regularly introduces the phrase 'before seeing how this effected the Carthaginians' we need to look elsewhere - which just strikes me as another opportunity to pad out a slim volume with more paragraphs and pages about Romans, Macedonians, Epeirotes and others. About two pages before the end he finally addresses the matter at hand and admits pretty much that we are no further than when he started the book! This is more than a let-down because you can see it coming a mile off. It is also extremely repetitive as he mentions battles and situations over and over again. He refers to Aemilius Paulus's horrified reaction to the phalanx at Pydna at least three times.

As I say - very disappointing, in as much as we learn next to nothing that we didn't already know - so how could it be groundbreaking? The illustrations certainly aren't, with pictures that look like a reasonable capable schoolkid had attempted them, rather than the sort of standard that you might expect (certainly from Osprey). I guess they are the author's own attempts and I don't wish to be unfairly critical (and if he is a reader/contributor here please forgive me) but using a better illustrator would have helped.

I'd be interested if anybody else has read this effort to see what they think. As far as I am concerned, the definitive book on the Carthaginian Army (as opposed to books on Hannibal himself - which this is not) has yet to be written.

As an antidote I will be checking this one out next: ... 182&sr=1-1 ... arrior-264 –146-BC_9781846039584

the cover of which looks to me to be the Spartan Xanthippos reviewing his mercenary/Carthagininan troops before or after Bagradas.
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
Agreed, it is a fairly weak book which spends most of it's time belittling Hannibal and praising Scipio, which is odd for a book which should be focused on Hannibal's army.

I found Cannae by Gregory Daly to be the best source on Hannibal's army in the English language, which is very detailed and much better than Stephenson's work.

This is a link to a thread I've been writing about Hannibal's army on another forum if you want to read it Smile
I read you entry on that other site. Well done - a concise rounding up.
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]

Forum Jump: