Book Review: Roman Warfare


by Jonathan P. Roth

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. xvii, 310. Illus., maps, append., biblio., index. . $19.95 paper. ISBN:0521537266

In Roman Warfare, Prof. Roth (San Jose State), author of The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (1999) gives us what is certainly the most comprehensive, definitive, and quite readable survey introduction to Roman military history, from the city's semi-mythical foundation to the collapse of the Western Empire, a dozen centuries later. 

Synthesizing scholarly work done over the past few decades, Roth reviews the social and political origins of Rome's military institutions, including organization, equipment, and tactics and their evolution over the centuries.  He also provides a look at Rome's principal wars and how they affected the Romans' military institutions, which proved quite adaptable, incorporating new technologies and changing organization and tactics as situations changed.  As necessary, Roth makes judicious use of sidebars with more detailed looks at notable people and events.  Although there are no formal notes, each chapter is accompanied by some suggested reading, and there is an extensive bibliography.

Roth's work is of immense value for the novice in Roman history and can be read with profit by more experienced students of the subject as well.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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