This is one of those books that is quite hard to categorise. Sabin's aim is to provide a tool that can be used to reconstruct the great battles of the ancient world. In most cases we have very little information on those battles, and that information is either very formulaic or contradicts itself. What Sabin has done is create a simple war game that can be used to re-fight those battles in an attempt to see which of our sources appears to be most likely to be correct.
Much of Sabin's work has gone into creating a system that can still be of use even when we have very little reliable information about a battle - in many cases we don't really know how many men fought on each side or exactly where the fighting took place. In most cases the only thing we are really sure of is who won! Sabin's system has to take this into account, so the army lists are kept simple and the battlefields are split into a small number of zones, allowing for the placement of known major features such as rivers, but not requiring a detailed battlefield map that would be impossible to construct so long after the events.
The basic idea is an interesting one, with the potential to provide some interesting insights into these battles. Sabin provides us with the rules and a series of battle scenarios. As a non-war gamer I must confess I soon got lost in the rules, so this review will be updated with a war-gamers perspective. As an historian I can see the potential value of the idea.
Author: Philip Sabin
Publisher: Hambledon Continuum