Book Review: Makers of Ancient Strategy, From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome


by Victor Davis Hanson, editor

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pp. x, 265. Notes, biblio., index. $27.95. ISBN: 978-0-691-13790-2

In Makers of Ancient Strategy, noted classicist Hanson, author of The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, and several other valuable works on ancient warfare, has gathered ten essays by himself and several of his colleagues (e.g., Donald Kagan, Adrian Goldsworthy) that attempt to do for the Graeco-Roman age what Edward M. Earle and Peter Paret did for the modern world in their 1943 and 1986 volumes on The Making of Modern Strategy.

The essays cover various aspects of warfare in Classical Antiquity from the Persian Wars to the twilight of the Roman Empire. All of the essays are good, several are excellent, notably one on the strategic role of fortifications, focused on "Golden Age" Athens but by no means limited to it, as well as those on Alexander and the Successors, counter-insurgency in the Roman Empire, the defense of the Empire in its declining centuries, and two address topics almost always overlooked in surveys of ancient warfare, slave rebellions and urban combat. The book does, however lack chapters on naval warfare, the evolution of fortifications and the siege, and Roman strategy during the Principate and middle-empie. 

Although not as comprehensive as Earle or Paret volumes, despite these limitations, The Makers of Ancient Strategy is a useful contribution to the literature, certainly worth reading by those interested in the ancient west, and a good introduction to the subject for those with little background in the subject.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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