bookshelves: history, ancient-history, roman-civilisation, winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, war, tunisia, published-2010, newtome-author, italy, fraudio
Read from October 20, 2013 to January 19, 2014
Blurberoonies: Other battles are perhaps just as famous as Thermopylae, Waterloo, Gettysburg, but the aura of Cannae, where Hannibal obliterated the largest army the Roman Republic had ever put into the field, is unmatched. The battle is unparalleled for its carnage, with more men from a single army killed on that one day, Aug. 2, 216 B.C., than on any other day on any other European battlefield: something like 50,000 Romans died, two and a half times the number of British soldiers who fell on the first day of the Somme.
Pure Military History, so this is a tacticians wet dream. The strategies on display at Cannae have been emulated down the ages....Continua
The story told in Ghosts of Cannae is a good one; the way it's told leaves something to be desired.
Aside from the casual reference to elephants crossing the Alps one hears from time to time, the last I heard of Hannibal was in 10th Grade World History, 20-X years ago. What I remember of him was not much more than his taking elephants for a mountain stroll. Enter Robert O'Connell.
Ghosts of Cannae was a fresh start with a character who 10th Grade World History didn't really give me an appreciation for. You'd think that as I read more, bits and pieces of my studies so many years ago would slowly come back to me - nothin'. I never learned what a badass Hannibal was. The guy was basically untouchable for the better part of 2 decades. Mr O'Connell also introduces us to more badasses in Scipio Africanus, and, to a lesser degree of badness, Quintus Fabius.
The exploits of these ancient leaders are fascinating, but Mr O'Connell's presentation made the read tougher than it should have been for this casual reader of history. Some reviewers here want new scholarship - it's all new when the depths of your memory stops at elephants & Alps. Some reviewers criticize the modern metaphors - the anachronism didn't bother me the way it bothered others, although they did come across as failed attempts to be cute and/or humorous. My criticism is that I too often found myself battling my eyelids - I liked the characters and portrayals, but it was tough to stay focussed through sometimes tortured prose.
All said, Ghosts of Cannae is worth the effort, and the read is not effortless. Some things are worth working for, I guess. In addition to having a newfound appreciation for the Punic Wars in general and Hannibal & Scipio specifically, an immediate payoff of my efforts here was understanding the reference to Quintus Fabius made on this season's premiere of 30 Rock....Continua