I’ve recently come to read two of the Osprey Command series books (first on the Admiral, Yamamoto Isoroku, and now the Carthaginian general, Hannibal Barca), and I have had to completely reevaluate my opinion of what the series was originally for. Not as much a concise biography that does not really achieve much, they rather provide a story of how the person got into the position of command, and then provide a review of the tactical situations he was presented with. Indeed, I find this a very valid way of assessing a military commander when compared to a massive tome on the person. Of course, there are plenty of things that those tomes mention that these shorter books do not, but I find the amount of information to still be considerable.
The book on Hannibal was indeed quite good — and partly forced me to change my opinion of the man. While a general of admirable qualities, I believed him to be a bit… ‘worse’, all along. And I now think far less of the victory at Cannae compared to the one achieved at Trasimene.
Overall, I enjoyed the flow of this book far more than I expected it would — it is very easy to make a history book read ‘slow’ and thereby make it somewhat cumbersome. Indeed, Osprey, based on my experience, has mostly avoided this, and it was quite nice to see them continue to do so.
Also, two things of note:
- bârâq, or the origin of the name of Barca, has the meaning ‘thunderbolt’
- daimónios would translate to ‘marvelously’, or a variation thereof
Not to mention the fact that apparently word of the results at Trasimene were passed to the Roman people with the phrase “We have been beaten in a great battle.”