File Size: 29037 KB
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military (February 29, 2016)
Publication Date: May 20, 2016
This book describes probably the last large-scale Roman try to invade the Persian proper and also to impose the own rule on Persian people. Although the book title includes the word " defense", the primary story is about Julian the Apostate - the Roman emperor (361-363 AD) who unsuccessfully tried to turn the wave of Christianity - great Persian campaign that resulted in the Roman disaster and death of this wonderful emperor in a skirmish when he rallied to recovery Roman soldiers attacked by the enemy. In my opinion, he was a good leader and a brave man and sadly he too early died from a twisted suffered in a fight. However , what I have learned from the book is that he failed as a politician and partly as a general by offending Christian Armenian allies and by declining to reinforce his auxilia who almost entered the Persian capital and by declining to recognize the Local hit-and-run tactics progressively putting on Romans down. As a result of his errors, the second Roman armed service that had to appear with 20, 000 Armenian mounted soldiers did not join Julian, and the Persians under the solid king Shapur II refused to take the field against the Romans as Julian has hoped. Under these circumstances, Julian missed the possibility when he could still dictate conditions to Shapur II and also to safely extricate the Roman forces from a failing campaign.
The particular book is filled with interesting details (like Germanic auxilia rushing into a fight without orders because they were afraid to skip the enemy and beauty of defeating him! what incredible bravery! ) that may be unavailable in other books on Roman-Persian wars, and am warmly recommend it to readers who would like to amuse themselves or to learn from the past in order not to make costly errors in the present., Very comprhensive book that descibes in details all aspects of Roman army organization, strategy and strategies. Clearly structured and strongly written., It was pleasurable for a book written about facts/possible facts that far back in background., First posted on Amazon online. co. uk on 15 March
This title is indeed about the war against the Sassanid Persians from AD 337 and the death of Constantine to AD 363 and the death of Julian. Both the title and subtitle (the defence of the Roman East) are somewhat misleading, but in an extremely positive way because the book has more to offer than they suggest.
Starting with the subtitle, this book is not only about the “defence of the Both roman East” even if the analyses of Constantius II’s defensive strategies are possibly among the best parts of the book. It is because a careful narrative and analysis of Julian’s disastrous campaign of AD 363 and the aftermath following his dying after he was mortally wounded in battle are also included. This marketing campaign was plainly not defensive, nevertheless the term might be defined, and the writer makes no such declare.
As for the book’s title itself, it only tells part of the story included in this book because both the civil war opposing Constantius and Magnentius, and the climatic battle of Mursa, and the campaigns of Julian in Gaul, including his victory at Argentoratum (modern Strasbourg). What the reader will in reality discover with this guide is a military good the whole period AD 337 to AD 363, and a mostly good (and at times simply excellent) one.
Opposite to another reviewer, We had no problem whatsoever with this, quite the contrary in fact, to some extent because I felt that I could not complain for getting more than We had bargained for and also because the campaigns in the West during the 350s provide not only useful context but also deliver critical elements explaining the strategic (defensive) choices that Constantius 2 has to make in the East during this decade.
Perhaps a more questionable assertion from the author is that, during the previous decade, the same Emperor had also adopted a (successful) defensive strategy as they only got part of the Empire’s resources at his disposal, with the rest being seperated between his two (then one) brothers. Although essentially true, this assertion is likely to underestimate that Constantius II also needed to “guard his back” against the possible ambitions of his brothers, besides the need to keep sufficient troops deployed in the Balkans and along the Danube to deter any “Barbarian” onslaught. The point here was your need to break up his resources and deploy them on more than one front without being able to concentrate them, whether or not they would have been sufficient to defeat, seep into and conquer the Local Empire on their own.
Another reason to compliment this book is that while some bits of it could be well-known, and perhaps as well or even better told elsewhere, this is – to my knowledge at least – the only full and continuous story of the whole period that I have come across up to now. Some elements, including the detailed defensive campaigns and sieges in the East throughout the 340s and 350s, are rare, excellent and show that the author has carefully analyzed the primary sources, and the task of Ammianus Marcellinus specifically.
There are however a few other sketchy points. One is that the author makes presumptions at times, but does not necessarily present them and discusses them as such. One of these brilliant was to presume that all auxilia palatina regiments which were in the beginning recruited from Celts or Germans, were in the West while most if not all of the heavy cataphract cavalry were positioned in the East during the period under review. What the author has done here has gone to assume that each type of units had been recruited in one half of the Empire and that there was no cross posting until Julian’s ill-fated Local campaign who brought both the Eastern and the Western forces to deal with against the Persian Empire. This is possible, but perhaps not likely, and we have no sources confirming that this was the case in AD 337 when the three sons of Constantine portioned the Empire and the military between themselves simply because we certainly have nothing like the much later Notitia Dignitatum that allows us a snapshot of the Empire’s military deployment at the ending of the Fourth century AD (for the Eastern part) and the beginning of the Fifth century (for the Western part).
Another “technical” point made by the author that could have been worth a discussion relates to the assertion (which seems a couple of times) in accordance with which the auxilia palatina were somewhat “ill-disciplined”. The reason for such a comment is that these crack units and shock troops largely hired among “non-native Romans” do, at least once (and this was accordingly recorded in one of our sources), reject the common fatigues and duties that traditional Both roman soldiers were expected to comply with. However , the reason for this is not really discussed. It could be that noble Germanic warriors and their respective war lords considered these tasks as being beneath their dignity and for some reason dishonourable and only fit for slaves, except that some of these units (such as the Petulantes) appear to have been made up of Gallic recruits, and therefore Roman citizens, and not “Barbarians” recruited from past the Empire. It could also be that these elites units were simply “immunes”. They could have been dispensed from peine and digging trenches and fortifying marching camps. Plainly, considering that a few of the Empire’s best infantry which, as the author shows so well, had displayed excellent battle discipline at Argentoratum, could be considered “ill-disciplined” would have warranted further explanation.
A further point is about numbers, especially in two values. One is about the huge losses (allegedly some 54000 on both sides) at the battle of Mursa in AD 353. An additional is the size of Julian’s army during the Persian invasion. In both instances, I could not help feeling that the situation for such high numbers was not entirely persuading because the author’s estimates had perhaps not been sufficiently discussed and contended. As an example, since most challenges in Antiquity (and during the Middle Ages) lead in a ratio of three to four injured for one fatality, a total of 54000 killed in a single battle appear somewhat difficult to consider. It might however include the losses of the entire campaign, as the writer (and others) has recommended, and it could also include most of those injured from the “losing” side who were “finished off” rather than being rescued and some of those from the “winning” side who did not survive their injuries. All of this, however, does not indicate that the author’s estimates are incorrect.
An additional puzzle is the author’s assessment of Jovian, the hastily designated successor of Julian. The author first presents him as a non-entity. However , the following developments – Jovian’s efforts to secure peace and preserve most of the armed service from destruction and his efforts to ensure that its clauses were implemented great own accession accepted paint a rather different picture. The author, perhaps affected by his sources, attributes this to Jovian’s lust for power. It may, more simply, be because were the minimum conditions to ensure his politics and physical survival.
4 stars for a valuable book, despite a few glitches and perhaps a few weaknesses, including multiple quotes from Sun Tzu which I could hardly help finding both unnecessary and unhelpful., I realise that this is going to become one of the standard books on the wars in the Roman Eastern during this period. It may not be accepted as definitive but it will be the book you have to argue against.
In it mcdougal gives us the background of the protagonists, looks at their army forces and their make up. He also, as much as possible, shows how developments away from the theatre had an impact about how the war proceeded. In this John Harrel is unfortunate in that the civil wars on the western part of the country and Julian's campaigns in Gaul are far better noted in the original options than the Sassanid campaigns in Arabia or against the nomads to the East. With that being said, he covers these as well as is possible.
He then follows the campaigns of Julian, finishing with Jovian and the final surrender of Nisibis. His evaluation is clear, compelling, and certainly he has made me re-think some of my assumptions about various steps.
I'd like to recommend the book to anybody with an interest in this area., Although the book is advertised as being focused on the war between Rome and the Persians between 337-361AD, most of the book is about Emperor Julian and his wars with the Alemanni and his intrusion of the Mesopotamian Pit in 363 AD. This specific was still interesting, and apparently there is more written on these events than the events advertised.
Nevertheless, if you were planning on an e book focused on the events advertised, you will be surprised. I was but not disappointed.
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