January 5th, 2012


Book Review: Hannibal: One Man Against Rome, by Harold Lamb

The 'Mad Carthaginian' won nearly every battle but lost the war, and history as we know it is the result.

Hannibal: One Man Against Rome

Doubleday, 1958, 310 pages

This is the breathtaking adventure of the great Carthaginian general who shook the foundations of Rome. When conflict between Rome and Carthage resumed in 219 B.C., after a brief hiatus from the first Punic War, the Romans decided to invade Spain. Eluding several Roman legions sent out to intercept him in Spain and France, Hannibal Barca astoundingly led his small army of mercenaries over the Alps and thundered down into the Po Valley. The Carthaginian swept all resistance from his path and, as one victory led to another, drove a wedge between Rome and its allies. Hannibal marched up and down the Italian peninsula for 18 years, appearing well nigh invincible to a Rome which began to doubt itself for the first time in its history.

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Verdict: A good primer on Hannibal and the Punic Wars if you'd like to learn more than just which battles were fought and who won. I found it interesting and written to be readable; it's not a history textbook. There are some interesting historical personalities who did things we still can't quite understand, and while we all know about the elephants, the galleys, the legions, the battles, and the final destruction of Carthage, there is a lot more to the story in terms of internal and external politics, alliances, and economics. If you find that interesting, this book is worth reading.

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