The most powerful army of its time is faced with insurgent attacks and revolts on the borders of their lands. A celebrated general proceeds to crush it and in the process makes a name for himself as a military commander. This is the history of the Gallic Wars written by the Roman commander, Gaius Julius Caesar, in which he explains how and why he committed Rome to this battle. This latest edition of an ancient classic in edited and annotated to explain the politics and armies of all combatants.
Besides a "Did this, won that battle, subjugated that people" tone, Julius will also show you how the cultural aspect is a key factor in driving the logistics for successful warfare.
See how weat-based diet sedentary people clash against meat&milk-based diet nomadic people.
See how cultural clashes are crucial for engaging a battle. How military engineering does makes a difference in the turn out of a battle.
Check out state-of-the-art techniques for post-battle subjugation of a people (supporting minority political factions, exchanging hostages, divide and conquer, etc...)
See how climate and terrain are important bottlenecks to warfare.
Check out how military stategists during spring-summer time turn into political statesmen during the winter-autumn period.
Learn plenty about history of people, people migration and early european ethnology.
Feeww... You'll learn a lot from the greatest military strategist and reknowned statesman ever, Julius Caesar himself.
If the secret to enjoying Tolkien is skipping all the poetry and troop movements, I never thought this reflected poorly on poetry as an art, but I must admit I never realized that there was an art to the military memoir to reflect poorly on. I shall have to do my best to remedy this, though whether there are accounts which equal Caesar's in elegance and focus, I remain in doubt.
This was an interesting book to read, an account of an ancient conquest told by the conqueror.
This book confirmed first hand things I’ve read elsewhere. As Benjamin Isaac points out in The Limits of Empire, the Romans didn’t really have a clear grasp of geography as pointed out in Caesar’s description of Britain. I’ve heard elsewhere of Caesar’s emphasis on luck in war and several times he mentions fortune, both for and against him. And, in this account, one can see why five Julio-Claudian emperors were able to mooch off Caesar’s reputation.
Caesar was brilliant in strategy, knew when to reward and when to discipline his troops. One can see why the legions developed a fierce loyalty to his family. One can see his oratorical skills (however palely reflected in translation) and mercy (with few exceptions, he’s remarkably lenient with the conquered Gauls -- but there were also practical political and military reasons for that). This book shows some of the flavor of warfare of the time: the importance of deception on the battlefied (and occasionally outright treachery at the parlay), the difficulties of supply, the amazing engineering skill of the Roman legions, the compactness of the ancient battlefield.
I wonder if Caesar’s descriptions of Gallic customs are correct and likewise with the Druids. I suspect Caesar perhaps overstates the client-patron relationships (a characteristic Roman social construct) in Gallic society.
Unfortunately, the book leaves me ignorant on points of ancient warfare I’d like to know: how were hostages (and there are lots in this account) and prisoners kept?, how quiet was the ancient battlefield (we here of speeches given on the field constantly)?, how close did various units camp?, what does a siege terrace look like?, how were the men tactically deployed? It isn’t Caesar’s fault these aren’t mentioned. He’s writing for an audience that knows these background details firsthand and needs no explanation. It would be like a modern history or novel not bothering to explain all that is implied by the words “telephone” or “fax machine”.
Caesar's accounts on the war are great. With such coldness he reports that the bodies of the soldiers keep pilling up as to create whole mountais.
The siege of Alesia would be very good fiction, but as it is an all to real story, it becomes simply breathtaking.
Definitely not my last read of these types of memoirs.
Recommended for everyone.