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Scipio Africanus: Rome's Greatest General [Hardcover]

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Item Number 375056  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   303
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.38 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2008
Publisher   Potomac Books Inc.
ISBN  1597972053  
EAN  9781597972055  

Availability  106 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2016 04:07.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
The world often misunderstands its greatest men while neglecting others entirely. Scipio Africanus, surely the greatest general that Rome produced, suffered both these fates. Today scholars celebrate the importance of Hannibal, even though Scipio defeated the legendary general in the Second Punic War and was the central military figure of his time. In this scholarly and heretofore unmatched military biography of the distinguished Roman soldier, Richard A. Gabriel establishes Scipio's rightful place in military history as the greater of the two generals.

Before Scipio, few Romans would have dreamed of empire, and Scipio himself would have regarded such an ambition as a danger to his beloved republic. And yet, paradoxically, Scipio's victories in Spain and Africa enabled Rome to consolidate its hold over Italy and become the dominant power in the western Mediterranean, virtually ensuring a later confrontation with the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms to the east as well as the empire's expansion into North Africa and the Levant. The Roman imperium was being born, and it was Scipio who had sired it.

Gabriel draws upon ancient texts, including those from Livy, Polybius, Diodorus, Silius Italicus, and others, as primary sources and examines all additional material available to the modern scholar in French, German, English, and Italian. His book offers a complete bibliography of all extant sources regarding Scipio's life. The result is a rich, detailed, and contextual treatment of the life and career of Scipio Africanus, one of Rome's greatest generals, if not the greatest of them all.

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More About Richard A. Gabriel

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard A. Gabriel is a distinguished professor in the Department of History and War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and in the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. He was professor of history and politics at the U.S. Army War College and held the Visiting Chair in Military Ethics at the Marine Corps University. A retired U.S. Army officer living in Manchester, New Hampshire, Gabriel is the author of numerous books and articles on military history and other subjects, including "Muhammad: Islam s First Great General" and "Scipio Africanus: Rome s Greatest General" (Potomac Books, Inc., 2008).

Richard A. Gabriel currently resides in Nashua, in the state of New Hampshire.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not so great Scipio  Sep 21, 2008
Reading the differing views of reviewers Asaro and Augustin makes one thing clear: while the latter has obviously read the book, the former, despite being an ardent fan of Scipio, has not. Otherwise he would have noticed that Gabriel himself discounts the myth of the 80 elephants Roman propaganda gives to Hannibal at Zama, and also that Gabriel realizes that it was Hannibal who was responsible for luring the cavalry of Massinissa and Laelius from the battlefield. It was sheer luck that they returned before Hannibal's veterans cut down the Roman line--probably it was a matter of minutes that saved Scipio from defeat. At Zama the armies were not evenly matched. Hannibal was unable to bring back his cavalry from Italy, and with the exception of his last line of veterans, he had only inferior troops. Massinissa's betrayal gave Scipio a large cavalry advantage. It is clear that without Massinissa Scipio's chances of defeating Hannibal were non-existent. Scipio did not fight any great armies or generals prior to Zama. The Carthaginian commanders in Spain were largely incompetent, with the possible exception of Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal, and in his case Scipio failed to prevent him from escaping with his army largely intact to cross the Alps to attempt to join his brother in Italy, so that Baecula was untimately a fiasco rather than a great victory. To compare Scipio's victories against incompetents such as Hasdrubal Gisco with Caesar's victories over the likes of Vercingetorix or Pompey (a great Roman general himself, leading a first class professional army) is preposterous. And Scipio's "victory" against Syphax and Hasdrubal Gisco by the treacherous burning of their camps in the middle of the night while pretending to negotiate a peace treaty was dishonorable to say the least (similar to the Japanese "victory" at Pearl Harbour). Mr. Asaro further shows his ignorance by stating that the cavalry battle of the Ticinus was a standoff rather than a victory for Hannibal, which is total nonsense. Hannibal defeated the Romans at the Ticinus river, at the Trebia, at Lake Trasimeno, at Cannae, at Herdonea (twice), remained undefeated on Italian soil for over 15 years, and would have vanquished Scipio in the last battle ,had it not been for the lucky (for the Romans) return of Massinissa. It was a tragedy for the world that lack of resources did not allow him to win the war in Italy, for after Zama the militaristic Roman Republic became the predatory Roman Empire. To understand the implications, read Faulkner's Rome: Empire of the Eagles. And for a better appreciation of what really happened at Zama, see the article by Mosig & Belhassen in The International Journal of the Humanities, 5:9, 2007, pp. 175-186.
Outstanding biography of ancient military leader with lessons to still be applied today  Sep 15, 2008
Paul Grabiel's book "Scipio Africanus" is a stunning biography of one of the few Roman generals who never suffered defeat in military combat. The book goes far beyond a discussion on Roman Society, and the Punic Wars, it also teaches many lessons that can still be applied in military arts today.

The book's main focus is on the military campaigns of Scipio Africanus across Spain and Carthage in The Second Punic Wars. The military campaigns culminate with the Roman defeat of Hannibal's army in the Battle of Zama. Each of the campaigns is laid out by discussing the strategic context of the battle and is supported by graphics depicting the layout of the armies.

Scipio Africanus was a master at building alliances. He knew of his own army's weakness in cavalry, so he specifically formed an alliance with the Numidians, who were known for their master horsemanship. His ability to form strategic alliances carried over into other key areas, such as logistics. The old adage is that an army moves on its stomach. Scipio Africanus understood this very well, and he planned his campaigns to ensure that his army never moved beyond its supply base.

What other lessons can we learn from Scipio that can be applied today? Scipio Africanus exemplified two key tenets of what is known in current military parlance by such buzzwords as the "Revolution in Military Affairs", or "Transformation". The first element was tactical innovation. Gabriel asserts that until his time, Roman legions could only maneuver in only two directions - forward and backward. Scipio Africanus invented the means for second echelon units to maneuver to the outside of the formation, enabling an envelopment of the enemy. At the time, these tactics were revolutionary concepts and caught many adversaries by surprise.

A second lesson is on the standardization of equipment, with the corollary of integrating technological improvements. Gabriel writes of Scipio Africanus' adoption of the Spanish sword after the battle of New Carthage. Gabriel writes "With some design changes, it became the gladius hispanicus, the Roman army's basic infantry weapon."

This book was my first experience with the Punic Wars, and it is a great book for the the casual reader.
Justice served  Sep 12, 2008
Dr. Gabriel,the widely-known and respected military historian and ethicist served justice in this new volume in his series of biographies of the world's greatest generals.
While historians and textbooks present the adventures of Hannibal, this author brings to the reader the genius of Scipio as one of the greatest generals of antiquity whose talents are proven -among many others- in the brilliant strategies applied in the battles at the Tower of Agathocles, the Carthagian Camps, the Great Plains, Zama, and the Ebro River in the early years of 200 BCE. All make it evident that he set Rome on its imperial course, expending Rome's power over parts of western Europe, Africa and Asia. This unmatched military biography is a significant contribution to scholarly interest as enlightening reading to all who have interest in history.
The thirty-five pages of notes and eight pages of bibliography witness to the author's thoroughness and deep knowledge of the topic.
Perspectives on this book  Sep 1, 2008
I am writing this review to correct what are very serious errors by the first review that appears here, and what also appear to me to be a bewildering perspective given in that review, in the hope that those who are not familiar with the history of the second Punic War and its aftermath may be more encouraged to read the book and the few that have proceeded it - including the history of Polybius. In the first place, the first review completely fails to note that Scipio Africanus faced a far more professional set of generals than the likes of Marius, Sulla, or even Julius Caesar. He did this, despite the lack of full support of Rome. To compare Scipio to them is absurd as their circumstances and the significance of what Scipio faced and they did are so far apart as to render comparison meaningless. The reviewer fails to note Scipio's defeat of 4 Catharginian armies in Spain, 2 more in Africa, before meeting Hannibal at Zama; all armies were led by well seasoned and highly professional commanders. At Zama Hannibal had advantage of his veteran troops, 80 war elephants, and a well manned cavalry. The two sides were rather evenly matched. Hannibal's veterans troops were at the rear - so why do you think Scipio had Laelius and Massinisa first drive the Hannibal's cavalry off the field and then encircle Hannibal's veterans? Luck? Now comes a typical Hannibal apology - "It wasn't Scipio that beat Hannibal, it was the Roman cavalry" - Oh lord! Let me digress a bit to demonstrate the nonsense of this type of "reasoning". Try saying it wasn't Montgomery and later Patten that drove Rommel all over North Africa, it was the British and then the American armored divisions. The comment is absurd of course, but that is my point! Scipio fully realized the criticality of a well disciplined cavalry and very effectively built one, first around Laelius, and then around Laelius and Massinisa. He also built an effective naval force as he needed it. He revolutionized Roman tactics, which of course the likes of Marius, Sulla, and "what's his name" inherited, but never really did themselves. As for a grand strategy, that began with Scipio's father and uncle who decided to press on to Spain rather then turn back to face Hannibal - the battle of the Tinicus was more of a standoff then a victory for Hannibal! It appears that the reviewer would benefit from a bit of background reading and not rely on Hollywood movies for his "facts" and perspective.

To call Scipio Rome's greatest general is quite appropriate - after all, within 53 years after Zama Rome went from being an Italian city state to ruling most of of the world it knew - did the others accomplish that? Hannibal and his country lost it all. But, as Hart had told us, folks like the loser, not the winner.
Uphill.  Aug 17, 2008
Scipio is one of the great Roman heroes and I was looking forward to this book with the hope that it would offer a biography more in historical context than earlier works. It may have succeeded but as I was unable to finish it, I'll never know. There is a good bit of theorizing about minutiae of interest only to an historian and none to me. The thread of Scipio's life eventually go so lost in interpretations and asides that I gave up.

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