The Fall of Carthage : The Punic Wars 265-146BC, Paperback Book

The Fall of Carthage : The Punic Wars 265-146BC Paperback

Part of the Cassell Military Paperbacks series

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The greatest conflict of antiquity, the struggle for supremacy between Rome and Carthage.The struggle between Rome and Carthage in the Punic Wars was arguably the greatest and most desperate conflict of antiquity.

The forces involved and the casualties suffered by both sides were far greater than in any wars fought before the modern era, while the eventual outcome had far-reaching consequences for the history of the Western World, namely the ascendancy of Rome.

An epic of war and battle, this is also the story of famous generals and leaders: Hannibal, Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, and his grandson Scipio Aemilianus, who would finally bring down the walls of Carthage.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416 pages, 20 Maps
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780304366422

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Like most people the only thing I knew about the Punic Wars before reading this book was the old story of Hannibal crossing the Alps with his elephants - perhaps with the odd notion of Scipio Africanus and the battle of Zama in there somewhere. Adrian Goldsworthy in this book rapidly corrects this knowledge deficiency offering a rather excellent overview of the three Punic Wars.Goldsworthy begins his account by describing the situation between Rome and Carthage before the first Punic War - highlighting the differences between the two states and their differing approaches to war and conflict. Rome as is shown was far removed in many respects from the old Hellenistic version of war making - treating each war as one of survival where hostilities would continue far after other states such as Carthage would sue for peace and begin negotiations. The composition of both Roman and Carthaginian armies are also set out, showing their respective strengths and weaknesses in a way that is both rapid and impressive. The notions that Goldsworthy imparts are clearly detailed and complex, but due to his skills as an author they hardly feel so, making the book particularly easy to digest.The overview of all three ways is done well, with particular emphasis being laid on the first and second wars. Goldsworthy also doesn't shy away from the fact that much of our knowledge of the period is spotty. and takes care to note when one of his sources may be considered questionable - doing much to bolster his own credibility in the process. The maps included are generally okay, though in some cases areas mentioned in the text are not adequately shown in these. Overall though I would strongly recommend this volume for those looking to get a nice general overview of the conflicts and it should be appropriate for those who have no prior knowledge of the ancient world or Roman history in particular.

Review by

Adrain Goldsworthy has a talent for combining excellent scholarship with readability to provide, in this reviewers opinion, some the best history writing about the Ancient World.His "Caesar, life of a Colossus" is a masterpiece and this book shows the same characteristics with a detailed account of the Punic Wars with valuable insight into the reasons for the eventual Roman triumph and Carthaginian defeat.From the Carthaginian viewpoint it was a story of great successes with eventual failure and Goldsworthy shows in some detail how the years of Carthaginian campaigning in Spain forged the most experienced and capable army in the Ancient world. This was the army that Hannibal led across the Alps and used to inflict massive defeats on the Romans legions at Lake Trasimene and Cannae.The account shows that in the context of ancient warfare, the Carthaginians could have reasonably expected the defeated Romans to come to terms and end the fighting but they didn't, and the reasons for this refusal form the fascinating explanatory core of the book.Both armies incorporated allies but the Romans consistently received more loyalty, which Goldsworthy connects to the willingness of the Romans to extend citizenship and rights to defeated cities - an unheard of idea in the Ancient World - in return for providing soldiers. As an example, some citizens of defeated Campania were incorporated in the Roman élite and the Romans could consistently field larger armies.The character if Roman government showed a high level of stability. I t consisted of the Consuls (two of them appointed for 1 year - a sort of temporary monarchy), the Senate (aristocracy) and the Popular Assembly (Democratic), which the Greek historian Polybius suggested was the natural condition of a civilized society, with each part balancing the power of the others. The senate was highly identified with the state, contributing their wealth to building armies and fleets (in contrast to the Carthaginian aristocracy) seeking to build respect and a reputation for virtus for their family through the generations. As the author says, "The Roman electorate knew what to expect from a Claudius or a Fabius....".An equally interesting part of the book deals with the new Imperial Rome that grew out of the ruins of Carthage. Romans increasingly believed that success was their due simply because they were Romans, army training, discipline and leadership declined as the aristocracy faded with growing populism, out of control corruption and special interests taking over society with growing debt and currency debasement.Rather like Imperial USA after 1945.

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