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Roman Battle Tactics 109BC-AD313 (Elite) [Paperback]

By Ross Cowan & Adam Hook (Illustrator)
Our Price $ 16.11  
Retail Value $ 18.95  
You Save $ 2.84  (15%)  
Item Number 329904  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   64
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 7.5" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   0.46 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 24, 2007
Publisher   Osprey Publishing
ISBN  1846031842  
EAN  9781846031847  

Availability  3 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2016 06:38.
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Item Description...
The book clearly explains and illustrates the mechanics of how Roman commanders - at every level - drew up and committed their different types of troops for open-field battles. It includes the alternative formations used to handle different tactical problems and different types of terrain; the possibilities of ordering and controlling different deployments once battle was joined; and how all this was based on the particular strengths of the Roman soldier. Covering the period of "classic" legionary warfare from the late Republic to the late Western Empire, Ross Cowan uses case studies of particular battles to provide a manual on how and why the Romans almost always won, against enemies with basic equality in weapon types - giving practical reasons why the Roman Army was the Western World's outstanding military machine for 400 years.

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More About Ross Cowan & Adam Hook

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ross Cowan was formerly a research student at the University of Glasgow where he was recently awarded a PhD for a thesis on the Roman army entitled 'Aspects of the Severan Field Army AD 193-238'. The major themes of the thesis are the organization of the Praetorian Guard and Legio II Parthica, their recruitment, numbers and equipment. Ross also completed his first degree at Glasgow. In 1999 he was elected a fellow of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland. The author lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Ross Cowan has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Elite

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Rome   [702  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General   [5033  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > Strategy   [794  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [101287  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Very good but not for beginners  Jun 10, 2008
The book is very good in that it does what the title suggests; discuss battle tactics. It is for those with some knowledge of the subject. If a more introductory discussion of the soldiers' lifestyles, ranks and promotions,salaries etc is desired then this is not the book.
Interesting resource on Roman battle tactics  May 7, 2008
This is a fascinating little volume, slim but filled with interesting speculation and documentation on Roman battle tactics from 109 BC to 313 AD. By necessity, there is much inference about actual tactics, given the difficulty of ascertaining with certainty exactly how the legions fought.

Nonetheless, the author, Ross Cowan, uses the historical record judiciously to reconstruct tactics. He notes his goal at the outset (Page 3): "This book will focus on the tactics of the legion, because that is the formation for which we possess the most evidence, especially the legions of the Late Republic."

There are reconstructions of disasters, such as Crassus' disastrous defeat at Carrhae. There are discussions of Julius Caesar's great victories in Gaul and against Pompey's legions, including a nice description of the key battle at Pharsalus. Also interesting, the discussion of Antony's and Octavian's victory over the Republican army commanded by Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, after their murder of Caesar.

There is detail on the evolution of legion tactics, on the components of legions (from archers to cavalry to infantry and so on).

All in all, an interesting slim volume (only 63 pages of text). For those wishing to gain more knowledge of Roman battle tactics, this represents a nice entree to the literature.
Roman Battle Tastics 109BC-AD313  Sep 13, 2007
Good but thought it was better. Not enough detailed with pics which are userfriendly
A powerful history of military forces and strategies during early Roman times.  Sep 3, 2007
Joining others in Osprey's 'Elite' specialty military titles is Ross Cowan's ROMAN BATTLE TACTICS 109BC-AD313 a powerful history of military forces and strategies during early Roman times. Any special-interest military collection strong in ancient battle history will find this an excellent survey of one of the world's finest military machines, including evidence for military traditions, battle campaigns, and color interpretations of tactical scenarios.
Good Research but no coherent theory  Aug 26, 2007
Writing about Roman military tactics or organization is an extremely challenging task, given the fragmentary archaeological evidence available and heavy reliance upon a handful of ancient literary sources. Inevitably, modern historians attempt to tease out additional details about the Roman way of war from these fragmentary clues but this leads to multiple theories with no clear conclusion. The fact is, there are many things that we don't know for sure about the Roman Army and that we will probably never know. That said, Ross Cowan's Roman Battle Tactics 109 BC -AD 313, No. 155 in Osprey's Elite series, attempts to explain Roman military dominance in the late Republican and early Imperial phase through the use of literary and archaeological materials. I thoroughly enjoyed Cowan's earlier volume in the Warrior series and it is clear that he brings fresh insight to this subject, but this volume seemed more awkwardly constructed. Although the organization seems apparent, the volume seems to bog down into one battle description after another and reminds me of one of my college professors who gets so involved in an exercise at the chalkboard that he forgets about his class. It seems like the author turns his back on the reader about halfway through the volume in his quest for "the answer." Overall, this is a decent volume and it makes some interesting points, but it quietly drifts into a "death spiral" with no real conclusions.

Roman Battle Tactics 109 BC - AD 313 begins an introduction that describes the organization of the manipular legion, basic battle formations and the importance of intervals in the battle lines. The author goes far out on a limb in the sub-section on the cohort's command structure, contesting Adrian Goldsworthy's theory that the senior centurion commanded the cohort; the author says, "there is no evidence whatsoever for this." However, "lack of evidence" doesn't mean much in Roman history since there are many unknowns. The author then - with no real evidence of his own - claims that the legionary cohort had no commander and the individual centuries cooperated in battle. This claim appears flimsy at best and later at the Battle of Forum Gallorum in 43 BC, the author writes that a retreat was order by Mark Antony and "the legionaries finally listened to orders." Without a layer of command between legion and century, to whom would a commander transmit orders? Later, when the author discusses the cuneus and "pigs head" as a combined attack by multiple centuries, how would they centuries be able to accomplish this without a senior leader directing it?

The main part of the volume is divided into a 33-page section on legionary battle lines and maneuvers and an 11-page section on offensive and defensive formations. Essentially, the author explains a tactic - such as the orbis formation for all-around defense - and then explains its use in 4-5 battles. This approach succeeds in demonstrating that Roman tactics were fairly consistent during this 400-year period but it falls short of any "unified theory" about Roman tactics. I noted too, that there was fairly little said about the Roman use of tactical reserves but clearly this was one of the major Roman advantages over their Barbarian opponents. Perhaps the best part of this volume is the artwork by Adam Hook, which consists of 7 color plates: legionary centuries in close and open order; the testudo; the cuneus and the pigs head; a legion in battle array; a legionary century charging; Lanciarii attacking Parthian Cataphracts; and a cavalry wedge.

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