The focus here is on the clashes between the Romans and their western and northern neighbours –the Gauls, Germans and Iberians (excluding the Britons). We start with the traumatic ‘first contact’ between the Romans and the Gauls, the Roman defeat at the battle of the Allia River and the resulting sack of Rome, an event that was remembered for the life of the Western Empire and could cause a panic whenever a hostile army appeared in northern Italy. After that we move onto the long series of wars that saw the Romans conquer Northern Italy, large parts of Spain (although Augustus’s final conquest is rather skipped over) and Gaul.
Half way through the tables are briefly turned by the Cimbri and Teutones who inflicted several massive defeats on the Romans, and we end with the failure to conquer Germany. Here we go beyond the famous defeat in the Teutoburg Forest and on to the surprisingly extensive campaigns that followed before the Romans eventually decided to abandon their attempts to conquer and instead chose the Rhine as their long term border.
The aim here is to produce a straightforward account, so much of the complexity that surrounds some of these events is missing – for example Marius is given credit for the reforms traditionally allocated to him, without the normal debate on how many of these he actually deserves credit for. This approach is probably necessary in this sort of book to avoid getting bogged down in excessive detail (and doubts).
The writing is often atmospheric and engaging, and the result will appeal to the general reader, giving a good overview of the four centuries of warfare that created the western part of the Roman Empire.
1 – The Dawn of Rome
2 – ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ – the Battle of the Allia River and the Gallic Sack of Rome
3 – Telamon, the Battle for Northern Italy
4 – Viriathus, Hero of Spain
5 – Numantia, Bastion of Spanish Resistance
6 – Liguria and the Foundation of Gallia Narbonensis
7 – ‘Wolves at the Border’ – the Migration of the Cimbri and Teutones and their war with Rome
8 – The Helvetii Invasion of Gaul, Caesar’s First Great Battle
9 – Ariovistus, King of the Suebi
10 – Caesar Against the Belgae, the ‘Bravest of the Gauls’
11 – Caesar’s Grip Tightens
12 – Caesar in Britannia
13 – The Belgic Tribes Revolt
14 – Vercingetorix, the Last Hope of the Gauls
15 – Decision at Alesia
16 – Onwards to the River Elbe
17 – ‘Death March of the Legions’ – the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
18 – Germanicus and Arminius
Author: Ludwig Heinrich Dyck
Publisher: Pen & Sword