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Ace Cataphract
HG Alumnus
(id: Ace_Cataphract)
posted 26 February 2006 23:12 EDT (US)         
This thread is essentially a place where you can talk about historical books you are presently reading or ask for book recommendations. You can recommend ANY (good) history book.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed. ~George Carlin

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 07-26-2008 @ 10:23 AM).]

AuthorReplies:
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 13 October 2007 12:57 EDT (US)     101 / 212       
100:1 is roughly the ration of soldiers (Plus National Guard and reserves) to total population in the US.
I like his stress on the fact that the Roman army was a kind of aspirational model for many states and that 'military progress' (for want of a better term) was progressive - that there was no 'great leap backwards' when Rome fell.
But the Roman army was organized in a manner that was far more effective than anything in the Middle Ages. The idea that heavy cavalry made the Roman infantry obsolete has been disproved thousands of times.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 13 October 2007 13:10 EDT (US)     102 / 212       
The Roman army was also managed in such a way that, even at its greatest height (say 2nd century AD) it was incapable of coping with full-scale revolts at too many places at once. That was, basically, also what brought it down: pressure at too many places at once. The Germanic tribes fighting the Romans had comparatively tiny armies ranging between 10 000 and 25 000 men. The Burgundians probably had only 5 000 men. The Eastern Roman Empire fared better, of course, but the fact remains that the Western Empire's fall is due in part to a military that couldn't compete.
100:1 is roughly the ration of soldiers (Plus National Guard and reserves) to total population in the US.
The US does not have enemies on her borders, a population that might revolt or an army that consists for over 50% of non-native auxiliaries. The comparison is moot and sounds suspiciously like a pretentious student in my year who asked whether the Delic-Attic Naval League could be compared to NATO.
The idea that heavy cavalry made the Roman infantry obsolete has been disproved thousands of times.
Have fun debating yourself, because no one here said anything of the kind.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-13-2007 @ 01:22 PM).]

MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 13 October 2007 14:46 EDT (US)     103 / 212       
The Discourses on Livy is Machiavelli's best. It shows that his genius was not just political, but also involved military theory, and he has perhaps a better grasp on human nature than any other philosopher I have ever read, something that doesn't really come out in The Prince.
I like all his work, but I'd say one of his best if the Florentine History

Quite an impressive thing, even if confusing chronologically at first.


Currently reading The Thirty Years War by Cicely Wedgewood (written in 1938, roughly 500 pages of work) which is quite impressive, so far I'm still in the prelude to war period, but her method of writing is easy to follow, she delves into the characters (without using stereotypical exaggeration and calling them all war/glory/sex mongers, in fact, most come out clean looking) frequently and looks at the state of affairs between the separate states. Also goes into the inner-religious conflicts of each side.

Recently read The Art of Renaissance Warfare which is very much an interested and historically experienced but new to the period book, which fits me rather well. Makes for a good companion to Warfare in the Seventeenth Century which I read a few months back. Wish the author would look more at the armies and soldiers, though.

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 14 October 2007 14:59 EDT (US)     104 / 212       
Your answer was a touch, well, hostile, Kor.
The comparison is moot and sounds suspiciously like a pretentious student in my year who asked whether the Delic-Attic Naval League could be compared to NATO.
The Roman Empire doesn't have its soldiers stationed all across the world, either (And a rough comparison can be made between the Delian League and NATO). The comparison is better than you realize.
Have fun debating yourself, because no one here said anything of the kind.
I thought that's what you meant.
The Roman army was also managed in such a way that, even at its greatest height (say 2nd century AD) it was incapable of coping with full-scale revolts at too many places at once.
Many of the Germanic tribes did lead rather massive armies, and Rome was certainly not "falling apart" during its height. It was certainly more stable and powerful than the Medieval kingdoms.

But what I was arguing was that the way individual armies fought, heir equipment, and their organization was far better than anything in the Middle Ages. Which it was.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 14 October 2007 15:48 EDT (US)     105 / 212       
Your answer was a touch, well, hostile, Kor.
I get annoyed when people try and put words in my mouth and/or do not take the time to read what I'm saying and just fire arguments away.
The Roman Empire doesn't have its soldiers stationed all across the world, either
Comparatively, taking into account the communications of the time, it did.
(And a rough comparison can be made between the Delian League and NATO). The comparison is better than you realize.
The similarities are superficial. Both leagues were meant, theoretically, to guard against an outside threat, but the Delic-Attic league had pretty much a master-slave relationship and was not on equal footing, as NATO was. The few similarities cannot prevent the comparison from being pointless and, as any vague comparison of present and past, a waste of time.
Many of the Germanic tribes did lead rather massive armies
I'm sorry, but the numerical superiority of Germanic armies has been dismissed since the 1920's.

"The Barbarian warriors who brought down the Empire in the West never constituted a very numerous force. The Alamans, for example, disposed of a maximum of 25,000 combatants at the battle of Argentoratum in 357; at Adrianople in 378, the coalition of Huns, Alans, Ostro- and Visigoths which crushed the army of Valens totalled about 18,000 men, of whom perhaps 10,000 were Visigoths; in 429 Genseric crossed into Africa with some 16,000 fighting men, a third of these coming from the remaining Siling Vandals, Alans and Goths, the rest from the Hasding Vandals. In the first years of the reconquest of Italy by Justinian, Witiges may have had some 25-30,000 men to oppose the army of Belisarius, which was smaller. In the second phase of that war 20 years later, Totila at best commanded only 25,000 men. In short, each of the principal Barbarian peoples could muster forces of between 10,000 and 30,000 men. In addition, because of the demographic weakness of the invaders, who lacked sufficient men, losses could not easily be made good and the recourse was had, in order to avoid fighting with skeleton forces, either to other Barbarians or to subject populations whose enthusiasm was evidently lukewarm."¹

Again, I don't know what post you're replying to, as I also nowhere said Rome was falling apart during its height (even though you put it in brackets to make it look like I said it, ta for that) but the fact remains that the Roman army was too small to deal with serious wars on all fronts, and history proves that. Luckily for the empire's citizens, it didn't face wars on all fronts at the time, but incidents as early as 70 AD show that the empire could be brought into serious problems if minor tribes like the Batavians (who didn't even constitute a proper cultural unity) revolted; it took, thanks to the troubles in Rome, a good while before the rebels were forced to submit and it caused the loss and destruction of many important Roman army camps (including fortresses as important as Xanten, Cologne, Neuss and Mainz) and the evacuation of the entire north-western limes. That was one tribe.
So no, Rome wasn't falling apart. But the reasons why it would fall apart later on were already visible.
But what I was arguing was that the way individual armies fought, heir equipment, and their organization was far better than anything in the Middle Ages. Which it was.
I suggest you study medieval warfare. Certainly the Roman army was vastly superior to the Barbarian tribes it faced. But by 1300 at the very latest the armies of Europe had become more advanced technologically and were significantly more adaptable, seeing as they drew their troops from a wider social group and had, therefore, more diverse armies. And the Roman military itself was not uniform throughout the ages, either. It had periods of incredible strength and periods of incredible weakness.

¹ Contamine, Philippe, War in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1984).

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-14-2007 @ 03:48 PM).]

Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 15 October 2007 15:23 EDT (US)     106 / 212       
I suggest you study medieval warfare./q]
I'll get to the rest later, but I'll deal with some stuff now. One, you can't say "because x had better technology that y, x had a better army organization". The militia armies of Whateveristan have more technologically advanced armies than the Romans, and could easily defeat a Roman army simply because of their technological advantage, but that doesn't make the army organization better.

Two, one legion could wipe the floor with any comparably sized pre-gunpowder army. The Swiss armies were pretty dominant in the Middle Ages, and the legions would have crushed them underfoot.
the fact remains that the Roman army was too small to deal with serious wars on all fronts, and history proves that.
Well, yes, I agree. After all, the US army is too small to properly fulfill its current duties. My point is that it is hardly "astounding".
The similarities are superficial. Both leagues were meant, theoretically
Were we not talking theory? Because I was. I meant the organizations themselves, not how they are used.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 16 October 2007 08:30 EDT (US)     107 / 212       
Enjoy your dreams.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 16 October 2007 11:27 EDT (US)     108 / 212       
Kor, if you don't want to argue the point you can just say so. I do it often, and I don't consider it to be conceding anything. But you don't need to be condescending abgout it.

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Gaius Colinius
Seraph Emeritus
posted 16 October 2007 18:43 EDT (US)     109 / 212       
Guys
No need for this kind of carry on please.

-Love Gaius
TWH Seraph, TWH Grand Zinquisitor & Crazy Gaius the Banstick Kid

Got news regarding Total War games that should be publicised? Then email m2twnews@heavengames.com. My blog.
Nelson was the typical Englishman: hot-headed, impetuous, unreliable, passionate, emotional & boisterous. Wellington was the typical Irishman: cold, reserved, calculating, unsentimental & ruthless" - George Bernard Shaw
Vote for McCain...he's not dead just yet! - HP Lovesauce

Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 17 October 2007 07:09 EDT (US)     110 / 212       
I have already argued my point. You have, however, consistently ignored my arguments and read only what you wanted to see, taking no heed of source material. And that's the last I'll say on this subject.

Back to topic: War in the Middle Ages by Philippe Contamine is indeed an invaluable work and a great read.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.

[This message has been edited by Kor (edited 10-17-2007 @ 07:11 AM).]

Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 28 October 2007 20:29 EDT (US)     111 / 212       
Is the Venerable Bede worth a look? I'm not only asking whether he is important as a historian, I know he is, but does his writing put men to sleep?

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 28 October 2007 20:58 EDT (US)     112 / 212       
Bede is quite good when he focuses on the history and the conversion of Britain, however the second half of his major work is mostly the lives of Saints and can get quite tedious until he starts talking about the Frisians. Part of Bede's problem is that he was very much alive for a lot of what he describes, but as a monk he never really connected with some of his subject matter like a soldier would have. Chronology's a bit confusing sometimes too.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 29 October 2007 05:05 EDT (US)     113 / 212       
Things always get heaps better when there's Frisians involved.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 29 October 2007 05:29 EDT (US)     114 / 212       
Especially pagan Frisians.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 05 November 2007 20:18 EDT (US)     115 / 212       
Is Pausanias entertaining?

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
MisplacedPope
Legionary
(id: misplacedgeneral)
posted 06 November 2007 18:12 EDT (US)     116 / 212       
Is Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy really worth the hefty price for someone who has read Adrian Goldsworthy's In the Name of Rome and numerous other works (including the man's own writing, and those of his contemporary historians)?

"It's not true. Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." Jack Nicholson
D Furius Venator
HG Alumnus
posted 17 November 2007 13:59 EDT (US)     117 / 212       
Yes it is. Paperback's not too expensive though, surely?

The central thrust of his argument is that Caesar really wasn't a radical in the sense that virtually nothing he did was unprecedented (and it was often his enemies who acted unconstitutionally and created dangerous precedents). Caesar was flamboyant, unscrupulous in some ways and certainly a (calculated) risk taker but was not really an atypical member of the aristocracy, merely very talented and successful.

But there's other good stuff. Three examples: Goldsworthy makes clear that Caesar's first campaign in Gaul showed he was still getting to grips with commanding a force much larger than he had previously, Pompey was far more unconstitutional in his actions than Caesar and Caesar defied Sulla whilst a mere teenager when everyone else in Rome was boot licking with zeal.

Civile! Si ergo fortibusis in ero.
Wassis inem causan dux?
Gnossis vile demsis trux!

I suggest that before badgering for a translation you take the time to read it out loud. Thankyou.
Legio Yow
Legionary
posted 17 November 2007 16:07 EDT (US)     118 / 212       
Must...resist...

"That which we call a nose can still smell!"
-Reduced Shakespeare Company

"Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café." -Dave Barry
Chalupa Batman
Centurion
(id: ccsantos)
posted 06 December 2007 01:53 EDT (US)     119 / 212       
I really have to recommend:

Q
by Luther Blissett

From Wikipedia
Q is a novel by Luther Blissett first published in Italian in 1999. The novel is set in Europe during the 16th century, and deals with Protestant reformation movements.
What is amazing is that the characters in the novel are all actual people from the primary documents during the German Peasants War 1525. The only fictional character is Q. History people would love this novel.

As-Salaam-Alaikum
Psycho Dan
Legionary
posted 08 December 2007 16:02 EDT (US)     120 / 212       
Hi guys, haven't been on Heaven Games for while but hope you're all well...

I've mostly been reading modern history lately but after having read (a translation of) La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas and seeing the 1994 French film I'm quite curious about the French Wars of Religion and Early Modern French history in general. Does anybody know any good books on this subject? Thanks.

P.S. These books are good - The Hundred Years War: vol 1 Trial by Battle by Jonathan Sumption and vol 2 Trial by Fire - two very well researched and interesting accounts of the wars between France and England - if mainly narrative.
Gaius Colinius
Seraph Emeritus
posted 10 December 2007 13:28 EDT (US)     121 / 212       
The biography of Catherine de' Medici by Leonie Frieda is an entertaining read and it deals broadly with the wars of religion. It does attempt to rehabilitate her reputation so bear that in mind when reading it. Balance may be required.

Btw Dan, don't forget to get back to Yak about the writing competition. You have "winnings" to collect.

-Love Gaius
TWH Seraph, TWH Grand Zinquisitor & Crazy Gaius the Banstick Kid

Got news regarding Total War games that should be publicised? Then email m2twnews@heavengames.com. My blog.
Nelson was the typical Englishman: hot-headed, impetuous, unreliable, passionate, emotional & boisterous. Wellington was the typical Irishman: cold, reserved, calculating, unsentimental & ruthless" - George Bernard Shaw
Vote for McCain...he's not dead just yet! - HP Lovesauce

Psycho Dan
Legionary
posted 12 December 2007 12:45 EDT (US)     122 / 212       
Thanks Gauis I will be sure to check it out - and yes I've emailed Yak about my prize
Kor
Busschof Happertesch
(id: Derfel Cadarn)
posted 12 December 2007 17:23 EDT (US)     123 / 212       
I've just finished Lodewijk van Velthem's description of the battle of Kortrijk; he wrote about a decade after the event and, while he was not personally present, spoke with witnesses and lived at the time of the fight. He has created a very vivid depiction of the battlefield, including more gruesome battlefield details, such as horses running around with entrails hanging out, and gives a good vision of both the way in which infantry and cavalry interlocked and the way in which popular retelling added to a story. The omens predicting the French disaster are a good example of the latter, including a toad leaving the Flemish ranks and spitting venom at the French army, before withdrawing unmolested. A more exciting omen is the count of Artois's dog, Brune, taking off his master's armour to try and stop him from going to the fight.
It's a great read.

Kor | The Age of Chivalry is upon us!
Wellent ich gugk, so hindert mich / köstlicher ziere sinder,
Der ich e pflag, da für ich sich / Neur kelber, gaiss, böck, rinder,
Und knospot leut, swarz, hässeleich, / Vast rüssig gen dem winder;
Die geben müt als sackwein vich. / Vor angst slach ich mein kinder
Offt hin hinder.
Tryhildor
Legionary
posted 15 January 2008 17:51 EDT (US)     124 / 212       
I'm just finishing Valerio Massimo Manfredi's Alexander trilogy, which narrates the Conqueror's life from his birth to his death, and explains in intricate detail his battles and friendships. Very good stuff. The books are called, in chronological order: Child of a Dream, Sands of Ammon and Ends of the Earth. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in Alexander and the Diadochi, or who simply wants to expand their knowledge in that area.
Cordyceps
Naphal
(id: ArchDruid)
posted 28 January 2008 17:02 EDT (US)     125 / 212       
I've finally got my teeth into 'Byzantium and the Slavs' by Dimitri Obolensky. I must say it's one of the most satisfying reads I've had recently. Thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you have an interest in the 'barbarians'. I'm watching carefully for bias and the like, but haven't come across anything glaring yet, which makes it that much more pleasant to read.

Just as some bodies, from the moment of birth, are endowed with beauty, while on others nature from their very beginning bestows blemishes and wrinkles, so with souls too, some are distinguished at once with extreme grace and attractiveness, while others leave a trail of sombre and deep gloom. ~Michael Psellus, Chronographia
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