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Thread: Roman History books recommendations.

  1. #1

    Default Roman History books recommendations.

    First, I'd like to say a huge thanks to the team of people who created EB, and anyone who posts here. This mod has really filled in many gaps about Roman, as well as, ancient European history for me. I recently bought a book spanning the history of Rome from around 800 BC - 650 AD. It's called "Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History" by Christopher S. Mackay.

    I was curious if anyone could recommend more books on the subject, and pertaining to European history as well from around the same time. I was looking for something on the Carthaginians, the Greek states/tribes, and the Gauls/German tribes.

    I was also curious about the source material for the EB mod, and if there is a list available of particular books and/or websites they used to make the troops, buildings, maps, as well as the historic scripts.

    Thanks again, and let me know if you've read the book I mentioned and know of its quality and accuracy.

  2. #2
    Guest desert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Official Osprey Thread
    EB Bibliography


    Why is this in the EB II forum?

  3. #3
    Biotechnlogy Student Member ||Lz3||'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    The complete roman army by Adrian Goldsworthy
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    EB Nitpicker Member oudysseos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    I thought Rubicon was very good for what it is, i.e popular history.
    οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
    Even as are the generations of leaves, such are the lives of men.
    Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, Illiad, 6.146



  5. #5

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by oudysseos View Post
    I thought Rubicon was very good for what it is, i.e popular history.
    Agreed. Rubicon isn't bad for a skim the surface type history. Holland generally does a good job with the general story progression, although is light on depth.

    If you are looking for Carthaginian history during the punic wars, I would recommend The Fall of Carthage by Goldsworthy. His Caesar: Life of a Colossus is pretty good too if you want a more specific subject matter.

    Kagan's Peloponnesian War was good for the Greek world.

    Barry Cunliffe's work is supposed to be good for the Gallic world, although I haven't yet gotten around to reading any myself. It's on my to-do list.

    You can always read the primary sources too if you are up for it.

  6. #6
    EB Nitpicker Member oudysseos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Cunliffe good. Beresford Ellis also good on celts.
    οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
    Even as are the generations of leaves, such are the lives of men.
    Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, Illiad, 6.146



  7. #7
    Tuba Son Member Subotan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    I got Herodotus' The Histories today. I'm loving it!

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    The Rhetorician Member Skullheadhq's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Subotan View Post
    I got Herodotus' The Histories today. I'm loving it!
    Me too! I love the part with Kyros' head getting stuffed in a bag and the way Dareios became king,
    I let his horse get horny and won the crown :)
    "When the candles are out all women are fair."
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by ||Lz3|| View Post
    The complete roman army by Adrian Goldsworthy
    I would ignore Goldsworthy, given his analysis of the later era Roman army is pretty weak in my opinion.

    If you want something that is really detailed in regards to many eras, try A Companion to the Roman Army By Paul Erdkamp. This book does not glorify the Prinicipate era army, which makes it more useful in my opinion.


    Google books has a preview for you guys if you want to read it. A preview which is legal.


    The sheer amount of information is huge, and it does not give a bias look at the later era Roman army.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray243 View Post
    I would ignore Goldsworthy, given his analysis of the later era Roman army is pretty weak in my opinion.

    If you want something that is really detailed in regards to many eras, try A Companion to the Roman Army By Paul Erdkamp. This book does not glorify the Prinicipate era army, which makes it more useful in my opinion.


    Google books has a preview for you guys if you want to read it. A preview which is legal.


    The sheer amount of information is huge, and it does not give a bias look at the later era Roman army.
    Here is the link.



    http://books.google.com/books?id=hR7...n+army#PPP1,M1

  11. #11
    Unhinged Celtophile Member Aodhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Here are two good ones for the Celtic world, both by Berresford Ellis:

    Celt and Roman,
    The Celtic Empire

    Iíll post others when I remember them.

    Celt and Roman, is a good overview of the contact and wars between the Romans and Cis Alpine Gauls.

    The Celtic Empire, is a good overview of Celtic expansion, culture, wars, subjugation and other happenings between 1000BC and 51AD, itís a little dated now but itís a good starter history.
    Last edited by Aodhan; 01-17-2009 at 21:28.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    The Companion to the Roman Army is pretty good by looking at the preview, but I looked up it's price on Amazon.com. A mind blowing $140. I can't see how it could be worth spending that much. The book I mentioned when I started this thread gave just as much, if not more detailed information about the early kingdom and early republic. It's only 200 pages less, but per-page it fits much more information, and for only $20 at borders.

    If the book wasn't so damn expensive I'd probably go and pick it up. Good suggestion though. I'll check out the others you guys mentioned on Carthage and the Gauls.

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    Member Member Macilrille's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Questions
    1. What is your specific interest?
    2. What languages do you read?

    Palle Rasmussen, Ma. Hist.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by thecellarlife View Post
    The Companion to the Roman Army is pretty good by looking at the preview, but I looked up it's price on Amazon.com. A mind blowing $140. I can't see how it could be worth spending that much. The book I mentioned when I started this thread gave just as much, if not more detailed information about the early kingdom and early republic. It's only 200 pages less, but per-page it fits much more information, and for only $20 at borders.

    If the book wasn't so damn expensive I'd probably go and pick it up. Good suggestion though. I'll check out the others you guys mentioned on Carthage and the Gauls.
    You can always use the Library.

  15. #15
    Member Member Hax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Not so much Roman history, but Pontic:

    I just ordered Mithridates the Great by Philip Matyszak. Wonder if it's any good.
    This space intentionally left blank.

  16. #16
    Jesus Member lobf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray243 View Post
    I would ignore Goldsworthy, given his analysis of the later era Roman army is pretty weak in my opinion.

    If you want something that is really detailed in regards to many eras, try A Companion to the Roman Army By Paul Erdkamp. This book does not glorify the Prinicipate era army, which makes it more useful in my opinion.


    Google books has a preview for you guys if you want to read it. A preview which is legal.


    The sheer amount of information is huge, and it does not give a bias look at the later era Roman army.
    IIRc that book costs ~$170.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by lobf View Post
    IIRc that book costs ~$170.
    Which is why I suggest you to look up in the library.

    Even so, the preview alone is good enough.

    Their infomation about the Roman army after the death of Commodus and during the 3rd century Crisis is helpful.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray243
    I would ignore Goldsworthy, given his analysis of the later era Roman army is pretty weak in my opinion.
    For my part I read him because of the high remarks in his peer reviews he gets. He is used as a reference in books that are coming out, such as "Soldiers and Ghosts" and a few others I can't recall off hand. I have read a couple other forum folk say they didn't think much of Goldsworthy, I was wondering why? Is there a historian you have read that completely lambastes Goldsworthy? If so I'm interested to know who, it would be in contrast to the multitude of other historians who claim him to be one of the best in his field. But don't go on my word, look up his peer reviews!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frostwulf View Post
    For my part I read him because of the high remarks in his peer reviews he gets. He is used as a reference in books that are coming out, such as "Soldiers and Ghosts" and a few others I can't recall off hand. I have read a couple other forum folk say they didn't think much of Goldsworthy, I was wondering why? Is there a historian you have read that completely lambastes Goldsworthy? If so I'm interested to know who, it would be in contrast to the multitude of other historians who claim him to be one of the best in his field. But don't go on my word, look up his peer reviews!
    If anything, try and look up on the German Historians in regards to late era Roman army.

    A lot of generic ideas like the Roman army was weak in the late empire was rebutted.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Oh ya, another book to recommend, much cheaper.

    http://books.google.de/books?id=r2hB...tcover#PPP1,M1

    The Imperial Roman Army
    Von Yann Le Bohec

    Only 30 plus bucks.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    @ray243 while I haven't read Goldsworthy's Complete Roman army(flipped through some of it) I have read others (Roman army at war 100bc-200ad, Caesar, and a few others) they were well written. I like the link to the book by Le Bohec and was wondering what German authors you were referring to?

    A lot of generic ideas like the Roman army was weak in the late empire was rebutted.
    When talking of weaker, are you referring to amount of troops,quality of troops, commanders, arms and armor, etc. etc.? What is Goldsworthy being rebutted on?

  22. #22
    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Goldsworthy is sloppy and popularist, well maybe vague would be better than sloppy. He lacks practical experience, for one thing, he's an armchair academic. To be honest, there aren't a lot of good books on the Roman Army all over, it's such a huge subject. You have to hit the journals, which is a bit difficult if you are not an academic yourself.
    "If it wears trousers generally I don't pay attention."

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    Member Member Cartaphilus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Nothing better than the classics - Livy et alia.

    And Gibbon & Mommsen.
    "Iustitia procurat pacem et iniuria bellum, humilia verba sunt nuntii pacis et superba, belli." (Ramon Llull)

  24. #24

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frostwulf View Post
    @ray243 while I haven't read Goldsworthy's Complete Roman army(flipped through some of it) I have read others (Roman army at war 100bc-200ad, Caesar, and a few others) they were well written. I like the link to the book by Le Bohec and was wondering what German authors you were referring to?

    When talking of weaker, are you referring to amount of troops,quality of troops, commanders, arms and armor, etc. etc.? What is Goldsworthy being rebutted on?
    Von Yann Le Bohec is German if I recall correctly.

    Weaker troops and less training is one main example. There is no indication that the later era Roman army is weaker per see.

    The whole weak army in the late roman era is based on the assumption that the main cause of the fall of the WRE is a weaker army. If that's the case, then Julian won't be able to launch a successful campaign for instance. Nor can the Eastern empire hold out for so long.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cartaphilus View Post
    Nothing better than the classics - Livy et alia.

    And Gibbon & Mommsen.
    Don't trust Gibbon to a huge extend. Many of his theories about Christianity leading to the fall of the Roman empire is debunked, given that the Eastern empire managed to survive and flourish as a Christian state.

  26. #26
    Member Member Macilrille's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Source Criticism is what seperates History from art and allows is to call ourselves scientists.

    Gibbon's time was one when it was "necessary" to shed the limitations of religion in order to advance science. Thus he speaks against it and is much influenced by anti-religious feeling, blaming it for much evil in the world.

    It was also a time when Rome was looked upon as the ideal, "The Dark Middle Ages" as dark and abjectively stupid (as a medieval historian I would disagree strongly), again, this influenced Gibbon. It is an interesting read as it is well-written and it is a fine source to the mentality of Gibbon's time. It is well-nigh worthless for Roman History.
    'For months Augustus let hair and beard grow and occasionally banged his head against the walls whilst shouting; "Quinctillius Varus, give me my legions back"' -Sueton, Augustus.

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  27. #27

    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by ray243
    Von Yann Le Bohec is German if I recall correctly.

    Weaker troops and less training is one main example. There is no indication that the later era Roman army is weaker per see.

    The whole weak army in the late roman era is based on the assumption that the main cause of the fall of the WRE is a weaker army. If that's the case, then Julian won't be able to launch a successful campaign for instance. Nor can the Eastern empire hold out for so long.
    Is Le Bohec the only German author your citing or is there others?
    I seem to recall Goldsworthy saying that Rome was growing weaker but I don't ever recall him referring to the armies. Which book did you read where Goldsworthy said the Romans were weaker due to less training?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla
    Goldsworthy is sloppy and popularist, well maybe vague would be better than sloppy. He lacks practical experience, for one thing, he's an armchair academic
    Hardly the case at all, he was a research fellow at Cardiff. Most reviewers use the terms renowned and highly regarded. From "A Journal of Military History" Ashton Boone writes "The works incorporated in the development of this book are truly vast, including nearly one hundred other pieces of literature from books, materials, and academic journals. Many other sources of information include works printed only from Greek and Latin sources"(This from Goldsworthy's book Roman Warfare).

    I would find it difficult to believe that it must be "armchair academics" such as Keagan, Matyszak and others would praise his work if it wasn't good. Perhaps some of his books might be vague(I haven't read them all) in certain areas, but some of his books are not meant to be a Gibbons size piece of work, so in that aspect you may say he is a popularist. You cannot say that of his books Caesar, The Roman Army at War, and apparently Roman Warfare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla
    To be honest, there aren't a lot of good books on the Roman Army all over, it's such a huge subject. You have to hit the journals, which is a bit difficult if you are not an academic yourself.
    Which books do you consider good? To say the journals are the way to go is not the case either. Are the journals are subjected to the amount of peer review as some books? Are the journals always correct? Do not the information in the most useful journals find their way into books?

  28. #28
    Jesus Member lobf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    I own Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connolly. I think it's pretty good. Lots of info and pretty pictures. Can I get an official approval of this book?
    Last edited by lobf; 01-27-2009 at 04:29.

  29. #29
    Bibliophilic Member Atilius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    Quote Originally Posted by lobf View Post
    I own Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connolly. I think it's pretty good. Lots of info and pretty pictures. Can I get an official approval of this book?
    It gets my vote: a summary of the history, overview of organization, and lots of reproductions of archeological finds - not just for the Greeks and Romans, but Gauls and Iberians too.
    Last edited by Atilius; 01-28-2009 at 02:43.
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    Bopa Member Incongruous's Avatar
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    Default Re: Roman History books recommendations.

    The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire was a very well written piece of scholarship, it is quite heavy, but well paced.

    http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Strategy.../dp/0801821584

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