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The Ghosts of Cannae [Audio]

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About the Author

Robert L. O'Connell worked as senior analyst at the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency's Foreign Science and Technology Center and is the author of Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression. Audie Award finalist Alan Sklar has narrated nearly two hundred audiobooks and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards.


The battle of Cannae was a milestone of the Second Punic War: an immense tactical triumph for the Carthaginian general Hannibal and a defeat for Rome, nearly destroying its army. Yet it was Rome, not Carthage, that eventually triumphed in the war, owing in large part both to the military lessons learned at Cannae and to the Roman survivors of the battle who had their revenge on Hannibal and his forces 16 years later. Military historian O'Connell sets the battle itself as the narrative's centerpiece, but much of the text is devoted to exploring the war as a whole, its numerous players, and the strategy and mentality of both sides, allowing the reader to better grasp the events leading into Cannae and its aftereffects. VERDICT O'Connell's examination is thoughtful and in-depth enough to interest readers of classical or military history. Its accessible coverage of the war also makes it a fine choice for those who may not be as familiar with the historical events. An excellent companion to Adrian Goldsworthy's Cannae: Hannibal's Greatest Victory or Gregory Daly's Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War. Libraries having either of those earlier titles may consider this one optional unless collecting comprehensively.-Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Military historian O'Connell (Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression) has established the new standard for studies of the second conflict between Rome and Carthage. In dramatic and comprehensive fashion, he describes the rivalry, based on temperament and territory, that led to the slaughter at Cannae in 216 B.C.E. and beyond. Focusing chiefly on Hannibal and his Roman nemesis Scipio Africanus, he also awards proper consideration to Fabius Maximus, whose strategy of attrition and delay could have saved countless Roman lives. Differences in Roman and Carthaginian tactics, armament, and philosophy are explained, as is the importance of religious belief to both cultures. O'Connell shatters the popular myth of the invincibility of the Carthaginians' fabled elephants, the "panzer pachyderms." The "ghosts" of the title are the Roman survivors of Cannae, who were unwanted reminders of defeat. They were banished to Sicily until Scipio Africanus incorporated them into the army that achieved the final Roman victory at Zama. Unfortunately, a lack of sources restricts O'Connell's ability to provide much information on the Carthaginian home front, but ample attention is given to the political maneuvers that shaped Roman policy. 6 maps. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

"A masterpiece of style, imagination, and erudition." ---Victor Davis Hanson, author of Ripples of Battle

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