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Roman Warfare

Roman Warfare by Adrian Goldsworthy is an attractive book, well-illustrated but unfortunately not terribly well-written. The author seems to have relatively little to say, and his prose style plods. Most annoying is his repetitiveness. For example, on Page 100:

... To preserve this they needed to prevent or avenge any raids on their allies. Failure to do so, or a Roman defeat, however small, encouraged more widespread attacks and allied tribes to defect. ...

Page 155:

... The Romans needed to maintain an appearance of overwhelming power, since any perception of weakness, such as the reduction in size of a frontier garrison or, even worse, the smallest Roman defeat, risked a return to general hostility. ...

Page 180:

... Rome relied on maintaining an aura of overwhelming might and invincibility to overawe her tribal neighbours. Whenever this façade was shattered by defeats, the Romans had to fight very hard to re-establish it. ...

Page 182:

... Heavy losses to well-trained manpower were to be avoided, since such troops could rarely be replaced in the immediate future, but far more significant was the blow to Roman prestige. Rome's relations with her tribal neighbours were based upon maintaining an aura of invincibility and nothing weakened this more than a defeat in battle. ...

Page 205:

... It was not just this tactical dimension which suffered from a series of defeats. At a strategic level the Romans relied on the domination of peoples outside by creating an impression of overwhelming might. Defeats seriously weakened this façade of Roman strength and meant that the Romans had to fight very hard to recreate it. ...

Embarrassing redundancy, to put it mildly. Excellent maps and photographs don't redeem Roman Warfare. Maybe it needed a better editor.

^z - 2010-11-04