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The Complete Roman Legions

The Complete Roman Legions

Nigel Pollard & Joanne Berry
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
Nigel Pollard lectures in Roman history and Archeology at Swansea University. The main focus of his research is the Roman Empire (especially the eastern provinces) and the role of the Roman Army. Dr Pollard has also led archaeological digs in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy and Gloucester. Read more. His published works include Soldiers, Cities and Civilians in Roman Syria (2000).

Joanne Berry is a Roman historian and archaeologist with a particular interest in urban life and how this can shed light on wider issues of Roman society and culture. She is also interested in the intellectual history of archaeology. Much of her research to date has focused on the ancient site of Pompeii, although she has co-edited (with Ray Laurence) a volume on cultural identity in the Roman world. In 2008 she founded "Blogging Pompeii", a news and discussion site for Pompeii and the archaeological sites of the Bay of Naples. Dr Berry is the author of the acclaimed Complete Pompeii (2007) and co-author of The Lives of the Romans (2008 ), both published by Thames & Hudson.

This is probably the definitive account of each and every legion of Imperial Rome. It includes the origins, battles and history of all 45 legions, from the 1st Century BC to the 3rd century AD; The rise of the legions in the republican period and the changes they underwent in Late Antiquity; and a full description of terms of service and recruitment.

The campaigns of the major commanders from Pompey, Caesar and Mark Anthony to Trajan, Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus are fully explored, highlighting the men behind the myth and their respective roads to glory. The authors include a fascinating insight into the organisation and command structure from Generals to Centurions; legionary equipment including weapons, shields, armour and artillery; imperial policing; battle tactics and siege warfare.

The book is sensibly divided into three major parts following the introduction. Part 1 covers the Legions in the Republican Period, including the "Marian" reforms, Caesar's Legions and the legions of the Triumviral period. Part 2 covers The Legions in the Imperial Age. This chapter deals with the "lost" legions of the Rhine, legions in Gaul, Britain, Spain, Africa, the Eastern frontier and the Balkans. Part 3 picks up The Legions in Late Antiquity, covering the crisis of the 3rd Century, late weapons and tactics, and the end of the legions.

The book includes over 200 illustrations, including 11 maps and timelines for the various notables. It is a treasure trove for the new student to Roman Military History, but also includes enough for the historian to get his teeth into. From a model-maker's point of view, there is plenty of information for scenery and dioramas and disposition of forces which would also benefit the war-gamers. There are a few colour photos of uniforms, mainly those of re-enactors.

Putting that to one side, I whole-heartedly recommend this book to readers.

Rating 5 out of 5


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