This is an exciting book that I literally could not put down. Oxford educated historian Tom Holland brings the whirlwind last years of the Roman republic to life — turning what normally is a dry recitation of names and places into a compelling drama. The machinations of Pompey, Cicero, Sulla, and, of course Caesar, are as complex and devious as anything imaginable. What stuck me most, however, was the many ways in which the last years of the Republic reflect our own modern society.Best wargaming bit: There are a few absolutely thrilling chapters that describe the rampaging Roman street gangs who, in support of one politician or another engaged in open warfare in Rome. It would make an outstanding game — especially when a politician opens his stable of gladiators, only to be countered by another’s private guard of legionnaires.
Aside from being a great general, politician — and perhaps even a great statesman (his handling of the varioius conquered tribes in Gaul speak to this), Jullius Caesar also was a top notch reporter. His report to the Senate on the campain in Gaul in 58 – 50 BC is one of the great pieces of military literature. While some argue that the works are little more than propaganda pieces, the detail with which he writes makes me think otherwise. Caesar’s style is powerful for its detail, and spare. My guess is that he no more would waste words than he would waste supplies, or political capital.
For miniature wargamers interested in ancient wargaming, this book is a must read. It is one of the few first-hand accounts of ancient warfare that have survived to the modern age. Most other works are second hand, at best.
I think that this is the one indispensible resource for the miniatures wargamer. This Encyclopedia of Military History covers virtually every armed conflict since 3600 BC. Whenever I think about starting a new period, this is the book I turn to first. While it doesn’t cover any period in the detail that a grognard would demand, it does offer enough names, dates and places to satisfy your curiosity, or settle a bet. It occupies a prime spot on my shelf.
Diana Preston’s Boxer Rebellion:The Dramatic Story of China’s War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900 was a primary source when I was researching scenarios for my Boxer Rebellion miniature wargaming project. The book reads like a novel, carrying the reader from one exciting event to another. While it doesn’t have the copious numbers and orders of battle so favored by wargamers, it more than makes up for this by providing dozens of raw ideas for good scenarios. Highly recommended.
Keegan is an instructor at Britain’s Sandhurst Academy (the equivalent of West Point in the United States) who is writing some of the best military history today. He often is a commentator in documentaries on The History Channel. In The Face of Battle, Keegan writes about what war must be like for the common soldier at Agincourt in 1415, Waterloo in 1815, and the Somme in 1916. There are some striking similarities in their experiences.