This is an ambitious book that sets out to cover four and a half thousand years of military history, from the rise of the first civilisations in the Near East to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The cover lists three authors, but the text was all written by Brian Todd Carey, an Assistant Professor of History and Military History at the American Military University. Allfree and Cairns have produced the maps that illustrate the main battles. The book was originally written as an undergraduate textbook, to fill a gap the author found while teaching,
The maps fall into two types - geographical maps showing the extent of various empires and the routes of key campaigns and battlefield maps that show the terrain, the initial layout of the armies and the main phases of the battle (each of which gets its own map showing the starting positions of the armies at each point and their movements). Both are useful, especially the battle maps which nicely support the text.
I would say that this is a useful introduction to this topic for the serious reader looking for somewhere to start. The decision to cover twenty-one key battles in some detail means that there is some meat here, while the linking sections looking at the general evolution of equipment, organisation, tactics and strategy give an idea of wider developments. There are interesting sections on the way in which different civilisations interacted and influenced each other's ways of war (in particular in the section on Greece and Persia). The weaknesses of the various systems are examined as well as their strengths - the section on the Roman army, with its limited use of light troops or cavalry, is a good example of this.
1 - Warfare in the Ancient Near East: The Bronze and Early Iron Ages
2 - Archaic and Hellenic Warfare: The Great Phalanx at War
3 - Warfare in the Hellenistic Era: The Rise of the Macedonian Art of War
4 - Republican Rome at War: The Rise and Evolution of the Legion
5 - The Roman Empire at War: The Augustan Reforms, Pax Romana and Decline of the Legion
Author: Brian Todd Carey with Joseph B. Allfree & John Cairns
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013 edition of 2005 original