Fields, Nic. Carthaginian Warrior, 264-146 BC. (Warrior series, 150)

Botley, Oxford: Osprey, 2010.

Osprey has published a great many books of military history in a large number of series, none of which runs more than 96 pages (many are half that length), and they’ve been mostly successful in providing generally well-written overviews of individual battles or campaigns, or military units.

Fields (who is new to me) is an ex-Royal Marine and biochemist who did a Ph.D. in ancient history and later was involved with the British School at Athens, taught at the University of Edinburgh, and is now a freelance author — quite a varied career. And he seems to have done a pretty good job here.

Carthage, the Phoenician city on the coast of what is now Tunisia, was the superpower of its day, controlling an empire that spread over most of the Mediterranean. Rome, the up-and-coming empire-builders, ran into them in a serious way when they first tried to expand into Sicily, and the result was a series of three hard-fought wars spread over more than a century that ended with the utter defeat and destruction of Carthage.

This volume is better organized than many earlier ones, with sections on the political organization of Carthage itself, the Carthaginian military structure (based, like the Roman republican army, on the Greek system) and how it was recruited and equipped, how it campaigned, and the events of the Punic Wars themselves (though that’s somewhat skimped, being covered in detail elsewhere among Osprey’s publications.). The Carthaginians depended not only on conscripts at home but also on Iberian cavalrymen, slingers from the Balearic Islands, and mercenary commanders like Xanthippos (whom Fields describes as Spartan, and whom artist Steve Noon paints as such, though all that is known for sure is that he was Greek), and all this is well covered. Fields is, in fact, a fluent and interesting writer. It’s also nice that the photos in the more recent Osprey volumes are all in color, in a resolution far superior to the older volumes. There’s even a decent basic bibliography for further reading.

Published in: on 18 December 2013 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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