Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life

Project-wise I don't have much progress to show. . . spray-varnishing minis and re-building woodland terrain does not make for dramatic documentation, so I'll share a "book like" instead. I just finished Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life, by Eve McDonald. Amazon describes it thus:

Hannibal lived a life of incredible feats of daring and survival, massive military engagements, and ultimate defeat. A citizen of Carthage and military commander in Punic Spain, he famously marched his war elephants and huge army over the Alps into Rome’s own heartland to fight the Second Punic War. Yet the Romans were the ultimate victors. They eventually captured and destroyed Carthage, and thus it was they who wrote the legend of Hannibal: a brilliant and worthy enemy whose defeat represented military glory for Rome.

In this groundbreaking biography Eve MacDonald expands the memory of Hannibal beyond his military feats and tactics. She considers him in the wider context of the society and vibrant culture of Carthage which shaped him and his family, employing archaeological findings and documentary sources not only from Rome but also the wider Mediterranean world of the third century B.C. MacDonald also analyzes Hannibal’s legend over the millennia, exploring how statuary, Jacobean tragedy, opera, nineteenth-century fiction, and other depictions illuminate the character of one of the most fascinating military personalities in all of history.

My wife asked me, when she saw me reading Hannibal, "Are you reading the same book about Hannibal, AGAIN?" Well. . . sorta. We only have so much information on a man that lived over 2,000 years ago. That said, Hannibal is a solid biography with copious notes and an extensive bibliography. It's focus is more socio-political than military, with some emphasis on "myth management" and use of propaganda, and places Hannibal and his Roman opponents squarely within a thoroughly Hellenistic Mediterranean political arena. 

From a "wargamer" point of view, then, this book is way more about "strategy" than tactics; in fact there is not a single battle diagram and battle descriptions are taken mostly from the primary sources and used to provide context for the narrative. Still, an interesting read.

See ya! 

No comments:

Post a Comment