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The complete and definitive history of how Roman generals carved out the greatest and longest-lasting empire the world has ever seen. The Roman army was one of the most effective fighting forces in history. The legions and their commanders carved out an empire which eventually included the greater part of the known world. This was thanks largely to the generals who led the The complete and definitive history of how Roman generals carved out the greatest and longest-lasting empire the world has ever seen. The Roman army was one of the most effective fighting forces in history. The legions and their commanders carved out an empire which eventually included the greater part of the known world. This was thanks largely to the generals who led the Roman army to victory after victory, and whose strategic and tactical decisions shaped the course of several centuries of warfare. This book, by the author of THE PUNIC WARS, concentrates on those Roman generals who displayed exceptional gifts of leadership and who won the greatest victories. With 26 chapters covering the entire span of the Roman Empire, it is a complete history of Roman warfare.


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The complete and definitive history of how Roman generals carved out the greatest and longest-lasting empire the world has ever seen. The Roman army was one of the most effective fighting forces in history. The legions and their commanders carved out an empire which eventually included the greater part of the known world. This was thanks largely to the generals who led the The complete and definitive history of how Roman generals carved out the greatest and longest-lasting empire the world has ever seen. The Roman army was one of the most effective fighting forces in history. The legions and their commanders carved out an empire which eventually included the greater part of the known world. This was thanks largely to the generals who led the Roman army to victory after victory, and whose strategic and tactical decisions shaped the course of several centuries of warfare. This book, by the author of THE PUNIC WARS, concentrates on those Roman generals who displayed exceptional gifts of leadership and who won the greatest victories. With 26 chapters covering the entire span of the Roman Empire, it is a complete history of Roman warfare.

30 review for In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Myke Cole

    An excellent analysis of Roman command style, and of the personalities of some of the more prominent commanders. Along the way, you'll learn a lot about ancient warfare and the politics and culture of Rome from the Republic to the end of the Principate. Goldsworthy has an engaging prose style, an excellent command of the sources and a real passion for the subject. His focus - on the leadership qualities of each commander, is original and refreshing, giving new perspective to a well-trod topic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Spqr

    Goldsworthy successfully draws a picture of how Roman generals actually commanded their armies. This book is in similar style to Goldworthy's first book "The Roman Army at War", which covers how the Roman Army actually fought its battles. Besides the story of individual generals, this book also traces the development of the Roman style of command as it evolved along with changing Roman society. The story starts with Fabius Maximus and Claudius Marcellus who are elected leaders of citizen soldiers Goldsworthy successfully draws a picture of how Roman generals actually commanded their armies. This book is in similar style to Goldworthy's first book "The Roman Army at War", which covers how the Roman Army actually fought its battles. Besides the story of individual generals, this book also traces the development of the Roman style of command as it evolved along with changing Roman society. The story starts with Fabius Maximus and Claudius Marcellus who are elected leaders of citizen soldiers in the Second Punic War and ends with Belisarius, a member of the Imperial household, who is general of an army of unruly mercenary cavalry and questionable infantry. A definite "Roman", style of command emerges which Goldsworthy then follows past the end of the Roman world and into modern times through leaders like Gustavus Adolphus, du Picq and especially Napoleon. The main Roman leaders covered in the book are: Fabius Maximus (2nd Punic War) Claudius Marcellus (2nd Punic War) Scipio Africanus (2nd Punic War) Aemilius Paullus (Conquest of Macedonia) Scipio Aemilianus (Numantia) Gaius Marius (Jugurthine War / Cimbri & Teutones) Quintus Sertorius (Roman Civil war in Spain) Pompey the Great (Conquest of the East) Julius Caesar (Conquest of Gaul) There is also a chapter on Pompey vs. Caesar in the Civil War. Germanicus Caesar (Reprisal war across the Rhine after defeat of Varus) Domitius Corbulo (Armenian War) Titus Vespasianus (Siege of Jerusalem) Emperor Trajan (Dacian Wars) Emperor Julian (Career on the Rhine and in Parthia) Belisarius (Persian Wars / Battle of Dara) Goldsworthy also manages to work in many other prominent Roman generals such as Sulla, Lucullus, Agrippa and Paulinus Seutonius. If you are interested in military leadership, ancient military history or Roman history in general you should read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Perron

    Adrian Goldsworthy, one of the world's foremost experts on the ancient Roman Empire, wrote this book about the great generals of that civilization. Although the author himself points out that this book is primarily about generals and statesmen and not a complete picture of what Rome was like, he still successfully fills in the gaps as he jumps from one generation of Romans to the next. In effect the reader goes on a journey though the ancient Roman civilization from the Punic Wars to the era of Adrian Goldsworthy, one of the world's foremost experts on the ancient Roman Empire, wrote this book about the great generals of that civilization. Although the author himself points out that this book is primarily about generals and statesmen and not a complete picture of what Rome was like, he still successfully fills in the gaps as he jumps from one generation of Romans to the next. In effect the reader goes on a journey though the ancient Roman civilization from the Punic Wars to the era of the 'Byzantine Empire'. Goldsworthy has smooth narrative that flows well from the time of Hannibal to the reign of Emperor Justinian. The book features those who Goldsworthy considers to be the greatest generals in Roman history. Some of the men he studies are very famous already,--such as, Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africnaus, Pompey Magnus, and Julius Caesar--others are barely known,--Aemilius Paullus and the very tragic Sertorius --and some were emperors--Trajan and Julian. Goldsworthy challenges the traditional view that Roman generals--in light of being politicians--were, by default, amateurs who real command fell to subordinates. He argues instead that they were both politicians and military men equally. "Yet a closer examination of the evidence suggests that most of these assumptions are at best greatly exaggerated and often simply wrong. Far from taking power away from the general, the Roman tactical system concentrated it in his hands. Junior officers such as centurions played a vitally important role, but they fitted into a hierarchy with the army commander at the top and allowed him to have more control over events than less."p.16 Also explored in this book is the culture of the Roman state and how that culture impacted the senators of the Republic in their careers serving it. One of these cultural traditions was that the Romans, even if things were not going their way, would never turn on Rome in favor of a foreign power. Their bond to their homeland was incredibly strong and this is part of what makes the tragic Sertorius's story of exile so particularly sad. "However important it was for an individual to win fame an add to his own and his family's reputation, this should always be subordinated to the good of the Republic. The same belief in the superiority of Rome that made senators by the second century BC hold themselves the equals of any king ensured that no disappointed Roman politician sought the aid of a foreign power. Senators wanted success, but that success only counted if it was achieved at Rome. No senator defected to Pyrrhus or Hannibal even when their final victory seemed imminent, nor did Scipio Africanus' bitterness at the ingratitude of the State cause him to take service with a foreign king."p.155-6 When the rule of the aristocratic Senate gives way to the emperors the role of the general changed from one of personal achievement and glory to all honor won by one man: the Emperor himself. Imperial Legets won glory only in the Emperor's name giving emperors, such as Augustus, a good deal of bragging rights. "Augustus brought internal peace to Rome, an achievement which was conspicuously celebrated throughout his principate. His regime relied heavily on the glory derived from continuous and spectacular warfare against foreign opponents. Under its first emperor Rome continued to expand as intensively as it had done in the last decades of the Republic and by AD 14 had brought under its control almost all the territory which would compose the Empire for over four centuries. The Res Gestae, a long inscription set up outside Augustus' mausoleum recounting his achievements, lists a vast array of peoples and kings defeated by the emperor. In style the test is identical to the monuments set up by triumphing generals for many generations, but in sheer numbers of vanquished enemies it dwarfs the victories even of Pomepy and Caesar."p.270 Imperial selfishness on the part of the Emperor seemed like a smart move, especially after it was proven that generals who did earn personnel glory were able to depose an unpopular emperor. However with incidents of emperors being dethoned by popular generals, Goldsworthy points out that this transfer of power to the barracks led to break down in military discipline that sapped the army's strength and with the army went the empire. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is an incredible achievement on the part of Goldsworthy and an overly entertaining read. It will greatly increase ones knowledge into the Roman military, its politics, and its leaders though out history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rindis

    Adrian Goldworthy's In the Name of Rome is something of a mixed bag. It purports itself as being an examination of the Roman style of command by looking at several of its most prominent generals. The selection is constrained to those where there's enough known to be able to say something intelligent, which warps the coverage somewhat. Goldsworthy covers fifteen generals, with Caesar coming in for extra attention (of course!) and two (Fabius and Marcellus) combined into one chapter, and thus feel Adrian Goldworthy's In the Name of Rome is something of a mixed bag. It purports itself as being an examination of the Roman style of command by looking at several of its most prominent generals. The selection is constrained to those where there's enough known to be able to say something intelligent, which warps the coverage somewhat. Goldsworthy covers fifteen generals, with Caesar coming in for extra attention (of course!) and two (Fabius and Marcellus) combined into one chapter, and thus feeling a bit more summarized. Despite the fact that this is centered around individual people, Goldsworthy actually spends a fair amount of time providing extra background and bridging, and the volume can serve as a decent history of Rome from the Second Punic War through the early Empire. After his chapter on Titus and the siege of Jerusalem, the gaps become too big (mostly because of a lack of sources on individual commanders) and the overall narrative of events breaks down for the final two chapters on Julian and Belisarius, making them feel more like the separate essays you would expect from the general format of the book. The part that surprised me, is that while the book is supposed to be about Roman command, it seemed like it had more to say about the Roman military itself. He points out early on that the Roman Republic army was set up to be a very non-professional force, with it's constant cycle of recruiting a legion, training it, and then disbanding it once the immediate goal/campaign is done. This leads to Roman armies having trouble at the start of the Second Punic War when there's been little training, and doing better as experience is gained. In the years afterward, there's a good number of veterans that cycle into the new legions, and help power Rome's growth in the 2nd Century BC. Then the Marian reforms put the legions on a more permanent basis, with long-term training, making it a professional service, and creating the armies that both conquer large portions of the future Empire, and tear the Republic apart as they fight each other. On the other hand, the last two chapters show just how completely this had all come apart. While the Empire was still a major state, even after the fall of the Western half by the time of Belisarius, and the total number of men under arms could still be fairly large, the actual armies in use were very small in comparison to previous centuries. Goldworthy's main analysis of Julian is that his successful campaigns against various Germanic tribes would have been handled locally by a provincial governor instead of needing attention from near the very top. His failure against Persia is given as being at least partly due to having to manage a larger army and distances than he had yet had to deal with. Finally, Belisarius' armies are generally puny, and he has to put up with a lack of discipline and mutiny that would never have been allowed in an early legion. The stated idea of how Roman generals functioned is discussed throughout the book as well, but it felt less prominent than the arc I just summarized. But the book is large enough to support both threads, while talking about the actual people involved, and threading much of the history together. At the large scale, all the history in here can be found in any number of other places, but this particular presentation is a good one, and does develop its own themes well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

    well-written as is Goldsworthy's forte, but his selection is 90% predictable who's who of Roman generals, with a heavy slice of the 2nd century BC-AD. He makes his most interesting point in the intro. Despite the apparent amateurism of the Roman high command, with no academies & little formal on the job training except as a tribune, there was an unofficial streak of imparted wisdom through lost manuals, senior advisors with campaigns under their belt & let's not forget the senior centurions of a well-written as is Goldsworthy's forte, but his selection is 90% predictable who's who of Roman generals, with a heavy slice of the 2nd century BC-AD. He makes his most interesting point in the intro. Despite the apparent amateurism of the Roman high command, with no academies & little formal on the job training except as a tribune, there was an unofficial streak of imparted wisdom through lost manuals, senior advisors with campaigns under their belt & let's not forget the senior centurions of a Legion with up to thirty years' experience in various theaters of war. Also, the education of Roman nobility, where politics & military glory were inseparately entwined, gave a decent foundation for a young general to command on horseback with sangfroid. As in any profession since the damn of man, the most important quality was to listen, to learn from mistakes & to delegate. Even if Caesar knew how to time a personal encouragement by appearing at a threatened section of the frontline. The luxury of pre-gunpowder warfare.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Campbell

    I confess I skipped the latter chapters concerning the Empire as my chief interest in this field lies within the days of the Republic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Nellis

    This is a military history of Rome from the 2nd Punic wars to the Byzantine empire. It is told through the story of many key generals. It covers many Generals you may know of like Caeser and some not as well known like Titus. This book tells the story of Rome and how these generals shaped its history. Many campaigns and wars were discussed, and I found it a very informative book. It even goes into detail of the history of the Roman military itself and the changes it went through as it developed This is a military history of Rome from the 2nd Punic wars to the Byzantine empire. It is told through the story of many key generals. It covers many Generals you may know of like Caeser and some not as well known like Titus. This book tells the story of Rome and how these generals shaped its history. Many campaigns and wars were discussed, and I found it a very informative book. It even goes into detail of the history of the Roman military itself and the changes it went through as it developed into one of the greatest armies in the world. Adrian Goldsworthy does a good job telling this history and keeping it interesting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fraser

    A fantastic read. Well informed, and interesting throughout, this examination of the Roman military machine as seen through the lives of its most famous generals is well worthy of further examination. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John

    Man did this book take me a long time to read. That is not to say that it wasn’t a very interesting read focusing on the individual generals/ leaders of the Roman republic/ Empire. It gave me a perspective that I had not yet encountered much in my extensive reading of ancient Roman history especially events post Augustus’s rule of the Roman Empire so that in itself was very interesting in itself But If I was to pigeonhole this book I would say this is strictly military in its approach with each Man did this book take me a long time to read. That is not to say that it wasn’t a very interesting read focusing on the individual generals/ leaders of the Roman republic/ Empire. It gave me a perspective that I had not yet encountered much in my extensive reading of ancient Roman history especially events post Augustus’s rule of the Roman Empire so that in itself was very interesting in itself But If I was to pigeonhole this book I would say this is strictly military in its approach with each chapter focusing on military leaders Caesar, Augustus, Pompey etc. and their campaigns abroad away from Rome and the Roman expansion of its territory. Great for those who enjoy military history or already have a good sense of Ancient Roman history and the events surrounding the topics covered in “In The Name Of Rome”. 4/5

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    just a thoughtful overview of generalship through Roman history with just enough social background for context. The more abbreviated 3rd-4th century AD coverage was very interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Elkin

    I enjoyed the book. A nice overview of some famous and some not so famous Roman generals. Great background work as well. I do think you need to have an interest in Roman History to pick it up. Goldsworthy is an excellent popular historian. In this day and age, perhaps we need to be considering the rise and fall of Empires, including our own, the USA.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    Scipio Africanus’s stupendously self-confident—and as it would turn out, accurate—statement that his mother had born a general and not a warrior speaks to more than just Scipio’s pride. It speaks volumes about the political, cultural, and martial status of a commander in ancient Rome. It presents a schism between the physical fighting and the leading of an army. This makes sense when one considers the problems of mobility in essentially any period until the modern age. One man could not be at ev Scipio Africanus’s stupendously self-confident—and as it would turn out, accurate—statement that his mother had born a general and not a warrior speaks to more than just Scipio’s pride. It speaks volumes about the political, cultural, and martial status of a commander in ancient Rome. It presents a schism between the physical fighting and the leading of an army. This makes sense when one considers the problems of mobility in essentially any period until the modern age. One man could not be at every place at once, especially in a military system that was built around the foot soldier. To command was not to thrust oneself into battle as Alexander did at the head of his household calvary. To command was to remain separated from the front lines and required spatial and temporal awareness. Indeed, commanders were often chided by their own men if they put themselves in danger. The value of their experience was not in their strength of arms, but in their understanding of topography, timing, and the inherent tug-and-pull of battle. Ability, not numbers, was what forged the Roman world at the point of a sword. Allow me to take a step back. This book is not fifteen biographies pasted together. Nor is it adulatory of Roman martial virtue. It is not even a defense of the Great Man theory of history. The subtitle is more than a little misleading. ‘In the Name of Rome’ presents the military history of the Roman Republic and Empire through the careers of fifteen commanders. It does this with somewhat uneven efficiency, but excels at making a point. This point is that Rome at every point in her history was an extremely martial state, and one sees the very cultural and societal history of Rome presented in her military history. At times of expansion, stasis, and contraction Rome’s civil governance revolved around military force. This was for both self-serving reasons and for national security. As Rome grew and then boomed, she came into contact with innumerable enemies at every point of the compass. She withstood invasions from states small and large. The Republic’s greatest external enemy, Carthage, fielded both disciplined and expertly controlled armies. The clans and tribes of first Italy, then all of southern and Western Europe, the Near East, and North Africa made up in personal skill and courage what they lacked in expertise. These enemies required different leaders and different armies. Even more so than external threats, internal dynamics shaped how the Roman army grew into a dominant professional force. For men of senatorial and equestrian rank—essentially the upper and upper-middle classes—the corsus honorum and tres militaire, respectively, made military positions extremely lucrative. Once entered into the Senate, a man took political positions in order to gain military commands, thus providing him with the honor and riches necessary for his next political move. This cycle, and the need to perpetually fuel the machine, is what dashed the Republic onto the rocks of a fatal civil war. Because of this, many supreme commanders were not professionals. They may have possessed an education that gave them theoretical knowledge, and may have held junior and then middle-grade commands, but they were rarely given command of armies after decades of previous service. They relied upon equestrians, who more often did possess many years of climbing a somewhat conventional command ladder, and junior officers from lower classes to provide the professional backbone of their armies. In order to protect political allies and then to deal with declining birth rates, armies moved from militias to professional enlisted organizations made up of first volunteers, then conscripts, then non-Italians. The smaller units within armies and legions changed as well, as they became more autonomous and wieldy on the battlefield. But at no point were armies easy to lead. This is why commanders of true genius—like Scipio, Pompey, Caesar, and Trajan—stand out. To command well required an innate understanding of warfare and of humanity, as a professional education was largely out of the question. At times commanders were more motivational speakers than tacticians, but in a style of warfare that required personal stamina and a willingness to put oneself within a spear’s length of the enemy, a good hectoring was sometimes necessary. Julius Caesar was superb at this. As emperors replaced consuls and senators, they became more and more afraid of internal threats. Because of this commanders were kept on short leashes with smaller armies. The size of legions shrank from nearly 5000 troops to under 2000. But they remained effective. Though large-scale battles were essentially limited to the old days of the Republic against Hannibal and the Macedonians, against omnipresent powers in Persia and Mesopotamia, and against internal revolts at all stages, the Roman army possessed a keen ability to best enemies great and small. Personal pride and sheer efficiency in logistics and battlefield prowess gave Rome greater than even odds that whichever enemy she faced could be bested. This did not protect her against catastrophic losses like Cannae or Teutoburg Wald. But it did protect her against capitulation following such disasters. A large recruiting base and an innate stubbornness and optimism made Rome an extremely resilient state. But her resilience was born in part through an ever-increasing territory, which effectively kept shifting the front lines further and further away from her political, economic, and agricultural power centers. For this Rome needed armies, and for those armies, leaders. That last statement obviously raises the classic response: what about the common man, the soldiers, the ones actually putting themselves on the bloody threshold? For this, there is one clear answer: Rome produced millions of such men, and if left to their own devices with whichever commanders luck, fate, or providence provided they would’ve accomplished essentially what Roman armies did accomplish, and in due time Rome would’ve risen and fallen regardless. But that is perhaps 60 or 75 or maybe even 90 percent of the discussion. It is that last 10 percent in which great commanders leave their imprint, in which great commanders actually change the course of history. The legions that Caesar led into Gaul in 58 BC were largely the same men that he led across the Rubicon in 49. They followed Caesar because he inspired them to follow him. He harangued them into ignoring missed payments because they held him in awe. They repeatedly fell into his attempts to guilt them into action because they could not bear to be left behind. This was the essence of military leadership in the Roman era. It was tactical brilliance, which relatively few commanders possess (discipline and cohesion covers up many sins on the battlefield), and psychological awareness that made the good Roman generals great. At most points in Roman history, the military life was a integral part of a larger career. Without a formal military education and clear progression in responsibilities as proficiencies grew, the semi-professional nature of her commanders widens the divide between the good and the mediocre and places the exceptional essentially on different planes of existence. In essence, military leadership in ancient Rome was heavily autodidactic and instinctive. In this we see a theory of the the man on the spot that is not at all incompatible with theories that address cultural, societal, and group dynamics. How Roman armies and commanders conducted themselves may not bear too much on modern military dynamics, but it does reiterate the need to foster greatness, initiative, and occasionally recklessness. Julius Caesar was a gambler, and sometimes who dares, wins.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Clay

    This is my third Goldsworthy book and I am kind of thinking that he can't write a bad or boring history book. His writing style is clear, calm, cool and collected with little emotion. Dry perhaps, but rather like a good Bordeaux. Starting with 'The Shield and Sword of Rome' -- Fabius and Marcellus in the 3rd century BC all the way up to Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire, Goldsworthy details the military careers and to some extent the political life of some 15 Roman generals (a few also went on This is my third Goldsworthy book and I am kind of thinking that he can't write a bad or boring history book. His writing style is clear, calm, cool and collected with little emotion. Dry perhaps, but rather like a good Bordeaux. Starting with 'The Shield and Sword of Rome' -- Fabius and Marcellus in the 3rd century BC all the way up to Belisarius of the Byzantine Empire, Goldsworthy details the military careers and to some extent the political life of some 15 Roman generals (a few also went on to be Emperors). At the same time he chronicles how tactics and the army itself changed over the centuries, from Republic to Principate to Late Empire and the Byzantine period. These military trends he details well, but considering such a such time span he can really only sketch each general. More detailed biographies on most of them can be found elsewhere. One minor quibble I have is the desire to see more maps of what Goldsworthy is describing. To be clear, the maps he has included are fine. I just wanted more and found myself looking them up online. Despite that little gripe, this book is highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Wood

    This is a fascinating book taking us from 275 BC to 530 AD and looking at Rome through it’s military. Goldsworthy has an engaging style, concise, informative and never boring. Even early in their history the Romans had a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement a belief that it was their destiny to rule the world. As a society they embraced Greece – art, literature, language and philosophy and people from every colour, race and creed provided they signed up to the Imperial Roman idea. Goldsworthy h This is a fascinating book taking us from 275 BC to 530 AD and looking at Rome through it’s military. Goldsworthy has an engaging style, concise, informative and never boring. Even early in their history the Romans had a deeply ingrained sense of entitlement a belief that it was their destiny to rule the world. As a society they embraced Greece – art, literature, language and philosophy and people from every colour, race and creed provided they signed up to the Imperial Roman idea. Goldsworthy highlighted, for me, two vital important aspects of the rise of Rome. It’s military discipline enforced, sometimes, with shocking brutality even by the mores of their time. Secondly that their Generals were amateurs, men who coming from the Patrician class were destined to rule as Senators. A time in the military was part of their duty but there was no training simply gifted amateurs leading a citizen army. Things slowly changed when the Republic gave way to the Empire. An expanded Empire needed more troops, citizens did not want to give years of their lives and so a professional paid army came into being. The military now needed professional soldiers to run it and Rome’s decline in some respects can be traced to that change and the personal ambition it spawned. Rome had been the ideal – now simply the means to an end and that led to the end of Rome itself. We might wonder if professional politicians are the modern equivalent of Rome’s professional Generals; do we have a lesson to learn from history?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Omar Ali

    A good overview of Roman military history, from the 2nd Punic war to Belisarius, focusing on 15 selected leaders. The selection can be somewhat arbitrary ( e.g. why not Sulla? or Agrippa? especially since no naval commander really makes the list) though that may be because of what sources are available and what are lost. He can be somewhat pedantic and the style sometimes made me think I was reading a book by John Keegan, though of course that is not necessarily a bad thing. But you know what I A good overview of Roman military history, from the 2nd Punic war to Belisarius, focusing on 15 selected leaders. The selection can be somewhat arbitrary ( e.g. why not Sulla? or Agrippa? especially since no naval commander really makes the list) though that may be because of what sources are available and what are lost. He can be somewhat pedantic and the style sometimes made me think I was reading a book by John Keegan, though of course that is not necessarily a bad thing. But you know what I mean; sometimes he really doesn't have that many details, but he makes it sound like you should also know everything about the furusiya of the Mamlukes..that sort of thing. This is not a comprehensive history of the Roman army. For example, he has little to say about how much money was spent on the army? how was it handed out and actually handled? how and where were the weapons made? a list of weapons? how were the supplies arranged? how many men died of disease? what was the medical corps, where did it come from, what did it do? that sort of thing). All that would have been really nice, but this is not that book. But it IS about 15 of Rome's major military leaders and also lightly fills in the background of events that were happening around those leaders lives. I have heard his later books are even better, but this is still worth reading if you are a fan of the Romans and of military history in general.

  16. 5 out of 5

    bkwurm

    Focusing on the outstanding generals of Rome, each chapter in this book provides a brief bio of the general and some background to put him in context before going into the campaigns that made that general famous. The usual suspects are all present : - Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, Scipio Aemilianus, Gaius Marius, Gnaeus Pompey, Julius Caesar, Trajan, Belisarius. Oddly missing is Lucius Cornelia Sulla but the author does include the little known Quintus Sertorius. Strangely Julian is included w Focusing on the outstanding generals of Rome, each chapter in this book provides a brief bio of the general and some background to put him in context before going into the campaigns that made that general famous. The usual suspects are all present : - Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, Scipio Aemilianus, Gaius Marius, Gnaeus Pompey, Julius Caesar, Trajan, Belisarius. Oddly missing is Lucius Cornelia Sulla but the author does include the little known Quintus Sertorius. Strangely Julian is included while Heraclius is not. Interesting book although I cannot quite work out how the author decided who qualified to get into the book and who did not.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    I have definitively concluded that "true" military history is just not for me. By that I mean the kind of history that focuses on battle strategy, armaments, etc. I do find interesting the kind of history that focuses on the psychological and the sociological aspects of war. Why did the Romans fight like the Romans did? Why did certain leaders behave in ways that were detrimental to their causes? Goldsworthy does have some of the latter in this book but it had too much of the nitty gritty to be I have definitively concluded that "true" military history is just not for me. By that I mean the kind of history that focuses on battle strategy, armaments, etc. I do find interesting the kind of history that focuses on the psychological and the sociological aspects of war. Why did the Romans fight like the Romans did? Why did certain leaders behave in ways that were detrimental to their causes? Goldsworthy does have some of the latter in this book but it had too much of the nitty gritty to be of interest to me. This is definitely for military history buffs and not just people interested in the Roman Empire (like me).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Justin Daniel

    Well my Roman history obsession continues. After starting the year reading SPRQ and Dynasty, I moved to acclaimed historian Adrian Goldworthy’s account of a unique part of Roman history: namely the generals that won victories for the Republic and then the Empire. In this book, Goldworthy traces the accounts of over 15 different Roman generals and how they won battles in the fight for the good of the Republic/Empire. Among the most noteworthy is someone I think everyone should at least know the na Well my Roman history obsession continues. After starting the year reading SPRQ and Dynasty, I moved to acclaimed historian Adrian Goldworthy’s account of a unique part of Roman history: namely the generals that won victories for the Republic and then the Empire. In this book, Goldworthy traces the accounts of over 15 different Roman generals and how they won battles in the fight for the good of the Republic/Empire. Among the most noteworthy is someone I think everyone should at least know the name of: Scipio Africanus. The Punic Wars were a series of wars that the Roman Republic fought against the annoying Carthaginians. After intervening in an uprising during the First Punic War, Carthage came back in full force to threaten the Republic with the brilliant commander Hannibal in the Second Punic War. Scipio was able to repulse the Carthaginians and defeat Hannibal. Livy recounts a story, almost certainly apocryphal, where Scipio asked Hannibal who the greatest general was, Hannibal reportedly said Alexander the Great as the first and Pyrrhus the second. And had he beaten Scipio, he would have put himself before either of them. A nice story, yet Hannibal lost to probably the greatest general in Roman history who never lost a battle: Scipio Africanus. The second most famous, at least in of the generals in this book, Roman general of note is Pompey (sometimes Pompey the Great). Pompey rose to fame in early battles such as the quelling of the slave revolt of Spartacus and solidifying the agricultural trade in Africa. Later, he rose to power to become of one the triumvirate, consisting of Julius Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey. The power struggle that ensued started a civil war after Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river. In those days, territories were controlled by what we would call governors. The governors had the right to command troops, and entering into another governor’s land meant you forfeited command. But Julius needed to go to Rome to ascend to the throne and oust Pompey, and so he broke with convention and crossed (after much debate). Pompey and other leaders fled Rome and Julius ascended the throne. Nonetheless, Pompey is still considered one of Rome’s greatest generals. Julius Caesar had moxie, as the aforementioned Rubicon venture states. When civil war broke out, Julius was able to politically and militarily defeat his enemies thereby leaving the throne at his disposal. Of note in Julius Caesar’s army was Legio X, his most favorite legion and arguable the greatest Roman Legion in history. I thought a particularly interesting account was that of the general Titus. Titus was the general in charge of quelling the rebellion in Jerusalem. Taking notes from both Roman sources and Hebrew (Josephus in this case) presents a more balanced approach to Roman domination. Titus laid siege to Jerusalem and despite advances from the Hebrews, they were not able to repulse their Roman conquerors and Jerusalem was sacked. This was probably the most interesting account in my opinion. There is much more as the book looks at many more, but these left impressions on me that I found particularly compelling. What Goldworthy does is interesting in that he views some of the cultural conditions of the time before going into biographical detail on a particular general. Obviously a general in the Republic looked very different from those in the Empire. For one, generals in the Republic were often times statesmen who commanded various legions at their disposal. It would be the equivalent of our statesmen’s, congressman and governors, controlling the local National Guard units (can you imagine?). Further the composition of the army continually changed with technological advances and more advanced doctrine as time progressed. I felt like the closing comments were particularly poignant. Goldworthy speaks about how the ancient Romans often times fought against rivals who were vastly technologically and organizationally inferior to themselves, much like the unconventional wars we fight today. Further, the influence of Roman armies continue to leave a legacy on armed forces around the world today. The drilling of troops is something Marines learn at boot camp and at times exercise throughout their careers. Often times this is seen as something that is totally unnecessary. Yet, it harkens back to a time where the precision of movements and lack of communication necessitated controlling thousands of troops in an organized way. This carried on into the introduction of the musket. The Romans drilled in 3 lines much like we utilize today. For musketeers however, it was necessary to 1) concentrate firepower, and 2) provide a quicker means of sending bullets downrange. The first rank would fire and begin to reload while the second took their shot, etc. We keep the tradition alive today by drilling and utilizing troop movements from the legacy we received it from. And there are good reasons to do so that I won’t get into right now. The Marines I know, in particular, have a reading list that is supplied by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. If I could put this on the list, it would be one of the books I’d recommend at the General Officer level. There are incredibly important lessons to be learned that are far, far above my pay grade. So if you know any Generals, give them a copy of this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cade

    This book is an overview of the role of Roman military commanders told in the form of a series of case studies of 15 particular commanders spanning a large swath of the Roman Empire's history. In this way, it covers the interesting topics of Roman military doctrine, tactics, and structure, but it also infuses these concepts with a readability and sense of drama from the case studies. Thus, it is interesting and entertaining. I have read several books by this author, and so many of his points abou This book is an overview of the role of Roman military commanders told in the form of a series of case studies of 15 particular commanders spanning a large swath of the Roman Empire's history. In this way, it covers the interesting topics of Roman military doctrine, tactics, and structure, but it also infuses these concepts with a readability and sense of drama from the case studies. Thus, it is interesting and entertaining. I have read several books by this author, and so many of his points about the way battles actually occurred and evolved were familiar to me, but they are likely to be even more interesting if you are less familiar with his other work. The figures are well chosen based on a combination of their intrinsic value as illustrations and the relevance of the source material we have to judge them. The scope even continues past the fall of the Western Empire into some campaigns of the Byzantine Empire. As with other Goldsworthy books, I wish there were more illustrations/diagrams and most especially more maps. I think given the uncertainty of the specific locations for ancient events, the author is hesitant to put forward maps of specific locations. However, even some large scale general maps of the areas covered showing obvious landmarks like rivers with putative locations of specific incidents would be a valuable addition.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donald Luther

    This book could also be titled 'Rome's Greatest Hits.' Like almost all 'Greatest Hits' albums, one finds a number of pieces that are familiar and well-loved (Caesar, Pompey, and Belisarius because I had to teach a class on Justinian). One goes through these looking for new and novel ideas, interpretations, and, perhaps, events in their lives uncovered in recent scholarship. In any case, as one reads the chapter, one hums along. Then there are the early works that established the reputation of the This book could also be titled 'Rome's Greatest Hits.' Like almost all 'Greatest Hits' albums, one finds a number of pieces that are familiar and well-loved (Caesar, Pompey, and Belisarius because I had to teach a class on Justinian). One goes through these looking for new and novel ideas, interpretations, and, perhaps, events in their lives uncovered in recent scholarship. In any case, as one reads the chapter, one hums along. Then there are the early works that established the reputation of the group. These might have been forgotten over time, but they do come back as the reader gets more into the chapter. The reader also sees the characteristics that came to dominate later in their early presentations. And then there's the later works. In some cases, you've gladly forgotten that the group did some of these. They're kind of embarrassing sometimes. The group is milking the style that brought them to the top and that style doesn't really fit them in their more mature form. There's always one 'I don't remember that at all.' (Julian the Apostate might best be described in this way.) It's a good book, but this collection of biographies (military biographies, I should say, since Goldsworthy focuses exclusively on the military life to the exclusion of all else) shouldn't be substituted for full-scale, more rounded, treatments of these figures.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    A good book, providing a series of short biographies of a number of key Roman Military figures. In telling these individual stories we see the major themes of Roman Military leadership as well as a history of Military thought in the Roman period. I especially liked how Goldsworthy concentrated his narrative on events and campaigns that are not normally covered in popular histories, at least not in any detail. This was useful as he used the early campaigns and battles of famous generals (campaign A good book, providing a series of short biographies of a number of key Roman Military figures. In telling these individual stories we see the major themes of Roman Military leadership as well as a history of Military thought in the Roman period. I especially liked how Goldsworthy concentrated his narrative on events and campaigns that are not normally covered in popular histories, at least not in any detail. This was useful as he used the early campaigns and battles of famous generals (campaigns that are sometimes glossed over in other histories) to lay a framework for the later career of the famous Romans (for example, Pompey’s early career in Spain is covered in more detail than his activities during the Civil War). Through this we can see the development of thought and strategy for the Roman Military, but also appreciate how a few core ideas remained a constant throughout the period. My one quibble is that the book tended to gloss over the continued evolution of tactics and equipment of the Roman Army. I would have liked to see how these various generals changed the forces they commanded. But other than that I thought this was a solid look at Roman military leadership. Great for those wanting to know more about the style of leadership in Ancient Rome.

  22. 5 out of 5

    April

    Goldsworthy's scholarship is not in doubt, but he somehow manages to make an interesting topic boring as all hell, which is quite the feat. Also, I don't know that I quite agree with his selections as noteworthy generals, especially since he admits to including some of them simply because more sources exist for them (Julian) than anyone else of the time. I also find it somewhat interesting who he chooses to exclude, i.e., Sulla, Mark Antony, Agrippa, Marcus Aurelius, and even Tiberius. (That's n Goldsworthy's scholarship is not in doubt, but he somehow manages to make an interesting topic boring as all hell, which is quite the feat. Also, I don't know that I quite agree with his selections as noteworthy generals, especially since he admits to including some of them simply because more sources exist for them (Julian) than anyone else of the time. I also find it somewhat interesting who he chooses to exclude, i.e., Sulla, Mark Antony, Agrippa, Marcus Aurelius, and even Tiberius. (That's not to say that all these men are truly noteworthy generals, but the fact that he spends as great deal of time in his chapter on Germanicus explaining the rise of the Principate and the generalship of Agrippa and Tiberius there seems somewhat disingenuous. The same can be said of Sulla in both the chapters on Marius and those on Pompey.) All this being said, Goldsworthy also doesn't dive into any real detail when it comes to any of his subjects. The chapters on Pompey and Caesar are the longest, but even they seem to truncate the sheer complexity that was the Civil War. This is a decent, if uninspired, overview of the subject of Roman generalship, but I doubt it will lead people to delve deeper into the subject, which is what I think was Goldsworthy's intention.

  23. 5 out of 5

    TheF7Pawn

    Very good. Goldsworthy weaves mini-biographies of Rome’s greatest captains into a compelling historical narrative describing the rise and fall of the empire itself. Moving effortlessly between strategic context and tactical detail, the reader is carried along by the author’s brisk but lucid pace. This book is scholarly in tone, but can be easily read and understood by the layman. Although Goldsworthy leans heavily on other historical texts, he is hardly a slavish follower of them and highlights Very good. Goldsworthy weaves mini-biographies of Rome’s greatest captains into a compelling historical narrative describing the rise and fall of the empire itself. Moving effortlessly between strategic context and tactical detail, the reader is carried along by the author’s brisk but lucid pace. This book is scholarly in tone, but can be easily read and understood by the layman. Although Goldsworthy leans heavily on other historical texts, he is hardly a slavish follower of them and highlights those areas where the historical record is in doubt or dispute. Goldsworthy helpfully includes a useful glossary that allows his readers to identify and differentiate the Roman terms for titles and formations that may seem ancient but still resonate today. In fact, as Goldsworthy concludes, the Roman way of war is very much akin to what we now call small wars or insurgencies and, for this reason, may still contain lessons for us today. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is series of mini-biographies of Roman generals in their role as generals and how they practiced command. I believe I may have reached the point with Roman military history where there is are not a huge number of good sources left to mine, and absent interest in the minutiae that separates historians from casual readers like myself, there are relatively few surprises left. Some of the observations about how leaders functioned in the Roman army were interesting, and Pompey got a more detaile This is series of mini-biographies of Roman generals in their role as generals and how they practiced command. I believe I may have reached the point with Roman military history where there is are not a huge number of good sources left to mine, and absent interest in the minutiae that separates historians from casual readers like myself, there are relatively few surprises left. Some of the observations about how leaders functioned in the Roman army were interesting, and Pompey got a more detailed treatent than I'd read before. But in some ways the biggest take away for me was how limited sources are about Trajan's campaigns.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adam Lofthouse

    One of my favourite Roman Non Fiction books. It follows key figures from the Roman world, from early Republic and Scipio Africanus to Belisarius fighting the Persians in Late Antiquity, each man's story is brilliantly brought to life. Full of factual information, giving the reader a feel for the Roman world at the time, not just the Generals who fought their wars. I learnt a lot from this book, and had to re-read once I'd read it cover to cover the first time. I have no doubt I will be picking i One of my favourite Roman Non Fiction books. It follows key figures from the Roman world, from early Republic and Scipio Africanus to Belisarius fighting the Persians in Late Antiquity, each man's story is brilliantly brought to life. Full of factual information, giving the reader a feel for the Roman world at the time, not just the Generals who fought their wars. I learnt a lot from this book, and had to re-read once I'd read it cover to cover the first time. I have no doubt I will be picking it up once more at some point in the future

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    Another great book by Adrian Goldsworthy. Learned a lot about Roman warfare, and warfare during that era in general, and respect the men that experienced all this. It is hard to imagine in our current days what preparations needed to be performed to go campaigning and how to keep the army fed and on the move. I knew some of the names in the book, but most of them were unknown generals to me. Mainly because this is an era that I just started to explore. You can't go wrong reading this book, even wi Another great book by Adrian Goldsworthy. Learned a lot about Roman warfare, and warfare during that era in general, and respect the men that experienced all this. It is hard to imagine in our current days what preparations needed to be performed to go campaigning and how to keep the army fed and on the move. I knew some of the names in the book, but most of them were unknown generals to me. Mainly because this is an era that I just started to explore. You can't go wrong reading this book, even with limited knowledge of that part of history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacey-girl

    I enjoyed this audiobook! The dude who did the reading made the book interesting. I kind of felt like I was at a lecture in Cambridge or something. As for the content? Adrian Goldsworthy, you complete me. I love your knowledge about Roman history. Especially the stuff on the Roman legions and Caesar (I truly think we dated in a previous life). I think I will move onward and upward and see what else I can learn from Mr. Goldsworthy. Fingers crossed its the English professor reading it to me again I enjoyed this audiobook! The dude who did the reading made the book interesting. I kind of felt like I was at a lecture in Cambridge or something. As for the content? Adrian Goldsworthy, you complete me. I love your knowledge about Roman history. Especially the stuff on the Roman legions and Caesar (I truly think we dated in a previous life). I think I will move onward and upward and see what else I can learn from Mr. Goldsworthy. Fingers crossed its the English professor reading it to me again!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Campbell

    In the Name of Rome is an excellent study of Roman commanders from the Republican Era to the late antiquity. Each chapter focuses on a different leader, with a brief introduction than an exploration of a campaign and battle from their career. What I found most interesting about this work was Adrian Goldsworthy’s (author) intent to focus only on leaders that had reliable sources written by or about. The only exception to the reliable sources rule is the chapter on Trajan and the Dacian wars. I hi In the Name of Rome is an excellent study of Roman commanders from the Republican Era to the late antiquity. Each chapter focuses on a different leader, with a brief introduction than an exploration of a campaign and battle from their career. What I found most interesting about this work was Adrian Goldsworthy’s (author) intent to focus only on leaders that had reliable sources written by or about. The only exception to the reliable sources rule is the chapter on Trajan and the Dacian wars. I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in military history or Roman history.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I didn't finish this book. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, and found myself starting to get very lost. However I thoroughly enjoyed the first third or so of the book before I felt I wasn't understanding it anymore. The descriptions and writing is great but you should have a decent understanding and background of the Romans before thinking you'll get through this and appreciate it. Hopefully I return to finish this more prepared.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    It manages to avoid the primary problem with military histories -- relentless detail -- by breaking up its subjects into short, sweet chapters that never outstay their welcome. The end result is a solid, one-stop-shop for studying Roman generals and their techniques of warfare.

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