Book Review: Hannibal


by Robert Garland

London: Duckworht/Bristol Classical Press/Dulles, Va.: International Publishers? Marketing, 2010.. Pp. 168. Illus., maps, biblio., index. $24.00 paper. ISBN: 1853997250

A concise introduction to Hannibal and the Second Punic War. 
Prof. Garland (Colgate), author of numerous books on Classical Antiquity, including a life of Julius Caesar , opens this volume of the "Ancients in Action" series with a brief introduction to Hannibal and his world, and gives the reader a quick survey of the sources and a look at the history of Carthage through the end of the First Punic War (264-241 BC).  He then returns to Hannibal, filling in the details of his early life, followed by a series of short chapters in which he examins the Carthaginian conquest of Spain and its importance to the general's rise, the famous march across Iberia, through Gaul, and thence over the Alps into Italy in 218 BC, the first clashes with the Romans, and the battle of Cannae (216 BC),  Hannibal's greatest moment, while discussing his qualities as a leader, tactician, and strategist.  There follows a look at  the many fruitless years that followed, as Hannibal campaigned in Italy trying unsuccessfully to force a decision on the Romans, who had decided to campaign against Carthage in other theatres (216-204 BC).  This part of the book ends with a chapter that takes Hannibal to the battle of Zama (202 BC), and then  into exile and ultimately death (c. 182 BC). 

Garland, however, doesn’t stop there.  Rather, he addresses the long-term political and strategic fall-out of the war, how Hannibal was later depicted in history, literature, art, and popular culture, and a discussion of the "verdict" of history. 

Although Garland's Hannibal is somewhat biased against the Romans (who were no more ruthless, treacherous, brutal, militaristic, or imperialistic than anyone else in their day, only more successful), it does provide a good, short introduction to the era and to one of history's greatest captains.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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