• Viggen

    Imagine yourself entering the public seats of a Roman arena. Would you expect a days entertainment? Displays of martial courage? Would you become excited and spellbound by the spill of blood? Or stare horrified at the sight of men mauled and mangled by wild animals? All these emotions are attested to in the Roman sources. Today we're alternately appalled and fascinated by the subject, noting parallels with modern attitudes and behaviour, wondering whether the love of violent competition is really so alien to us.

    Welcome to Gladiators & Beast Hunts, a book by Dr Christopher Epplett. The first impression is largely helped by the books cover, showing mosiac imagery many will be familiar with. Presentation maintains the standards we have come to expect of the publisher and the colour photographs in the centre section are both relevant and illuminating...

    ...continue to the review of Gladiators & Beasthunts by Christopher Epplett


    Describe Roman Italy. Go on, I dare you. Chances are you're hopelessly wrong. We have just left behind a century of global conflict and competition between powerful political idealism. Vast industrial empires and centralised control. With such an astonishing hold over a vast swathe of the Known World is it any wonder we so readily connect with the Romans? Or at least we think we do. Our preconceptions are incredibly distorted by recent history and contemporary politics. If you don't believe me, A Companion To Roman Italy is a book that will teach you just how little you know...

    ...continue to the review of A Companion to Roman Italy by Alison E. Cooley
    Reference books do not often make for popular reading. Many are too thick and cumbersome, their dusty pages clogged with statistics and data, lengthy quotations and technical prose. Good for academics and universities, yes. Worthy of a glance or two in passing, certainly. But to buy? Usually I avoid it. After all, why buy an encyclopaedia of nineteenth-century Russian literature when one could read Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky? Why buy a compendium of ancient battles when one could read Tacitus or Xenophon or Thucydides, or any number of modern classicists?
    Such were my thoughts before reading Don Taylor’s Roman Empire at War: A Compendium of Battles from 31 BC to AD 565. Although my preconceptions found some basis in reality, I admit I was pleasantly surprised by this little book – and by little I mean little! Numbering only 215 pages, it surely must rank among the most concise compendiums ever written...
    ...continue to the review of Empire at War: A Compendium of Roman Battles by Don Taylor
    This book reads like a breath of fresh air. Admittedly, when I first picked it up I was ambivalent, even reluctant, to read it. After all, hasn`t ancient warfare been done to death already? Documentaries and movies and novels about the Greco-Persian and the Peloponnesian Wars abound. Historians, classicists, archaeologists - both professional and amateur - have discussed and re-discussed Greek warfare for decades. Did we really need another budding historian raking over the same old ground, I wondered? How much more can be said about Thermopylae and Sparta, Xerxes and Persia? Wasn`t it time to search for greener pastures? Thankfully, my doubts were unfounded. Great Battles of the Classical Greek World, despite its somewhat dull title, is not a regurgitation of the same old story...
    ...continue to the full review of Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees
    Nick Brown is a very talented storyteller! The Earthly Gods, published in 2016, grabs you early on and holds you fast until the final pages, which fly by way too quickly. It`s a sad day to finally put it aside. This volume is the sixth in the Agent of Rome series and is undoubtedly one of his best. I found the intrigue and suspense of The Earthly Gods more than compensated for the lack of flying pila, clashing shields, and the sights and sounds of battle...
    ...continue to the review of The Earthly Gods: Agent of Rome 6 by Nick Brown
    This is a fabulous book for historians. It is a serious, yet gripping, book of history, the story of a man little known in this century although much loved 200 years ago. You may not recognise the names of either of these two co-authors. They both graduated from Duke University in North Carolina, USA, nine or ten years ago. Both have been political speech writers at one time or another since then, so are well versed in the customs and practices of the paraphernalia of modern Government in the United States. Both have cooperated on a number of pieces for various publications including (according to Wikipedia) Politico, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, AdWeek, and The Atlantic, and others, as well as the subject book of this review...
    ...continue to the review of Rome's Last Citizen by Goodman & Soni
    In God`s Generals, retired U.S. Army officer and current professor Richard A. Gabriel analyzes Moses, Buddha and Muhammad as military leaders. Gabriel`s outlook is philosophically materialist, and it is from that limited empirical stance (i.e., that the spiritual and supernatural do not exist) that he filters the evidence through the "dark and clouded glass of time" to reach what he hopes are "reasonable conclusions" (p 126)...
    ...continue to the review of Gods Generals by Richard A. Gabriel

    By Viggen, in News,

    The study of Inner (Central) Asia has long been the preserve of historians from those regions. As a result, much of the information they have gleaned from their (admittedly meagre) sources has remained unread by many in the West, especially those, like myself, who can struggle with reading works not written in English. Thankfully, historians are now emerging who are bringing this research to the eyes of the English-speaking world.
    One of these is Hyun Jin Kim, Lecturer in Classics at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who has previously published The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe (Cambridge, 2013). In his new book, Kim has attempted to outline the history of the Huns from their origins as part of the Xiongnu Empire (c. 200BC - AD 200) based in the northern regions inside and outside modern China, to their evolution into the Huns and similar entities...
    ...continue with the review of The Huns by Hyun Jin Kim
    The Romans dominated the Mediterranean and even called it Mare Nostrum, or 'Our Sea'. How did this come about? The fleets of the Greek states, Pirates, Phoenicians and their later cousins the Carthaginians, had made the Mediterranean the strategic battleground it would later resume. The story goes that the Romans conquered the seas as latecomers, forced by necessity to create a navy from scratch. But they did conquer the Mediterranean - and that brings up questions of how and why. Rome Seizes the Trident seeks to answer these questions, to describe the rise of Roman naval supremacy, and to understand what naval battle was about....
    ...continue to the review of Rome Seizes The Trident by Marc G. Desantis
    A couple of years before his violent death on the order of the Second Triumvirate, Cicero wrote a charming essay on the subject of growing old. Rogue and hypocrite he may have been in the eyes of some, but you can’t help feeling he deserved the chance to live out his old age in peace and tranquility. He was 63. The philosopher, politician and orator wrote his treatise, Cato Maior de Senectute (Cato the Elder on Old Age), after retiring to his country estate. He chose Cato into whose mouth to put words of wisdom on old age in a fictional monologue – Cicero greatly admired the Roman senator from the previous century...
    ...continue to the review of How to Grow Old by Marcus Tullius Cicero
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