Books on the Ancient World

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Ancient World
General Works

Books - Ancient World

General Works

Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC, John D Grainger. Looks at the nature of kingship in the years between Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, a period in which a surprising number of dynasties established themselves, and in some cases even flourished for centuries before disappearing. Organised thematically, so we see how the various dynasties differed, and more often how much they had in common. Also helps to explain how some of these apparently unstable dynasties managed to survive for so long (Read Full Review)
Pyrrhus of Epirus, Jeff Champion. A useful biography of one of the more adventurous leaders of the generation that followed Alexander the Great, twice king of Macedon, twice king of Epirus, once king of Sicily and one of Rome's most dangerous early opponents, even if his victories did come at such a cost that his name has become associated with costly self defeating victories. Does a good job of tracing his career through the often fragmentary sources, and of placing him in the context of his times Read Full Review
Ancient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 6: A Feast for Dogs & Crows - The Aftermath of BattleAncient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 6: A Feast for Dogs & Crows - The Aftermath of Battle An unusual theme, focusing on the aftermath of war, looking at the fate of the victors and vanquished, the return home and the celebrations of victory as well as the fate of the dead or the captive. Interesting to follow on from where most accounts of battles end,  . Also looks at the real role of the Praetorian Guard, and the nature of the cuneus in Roman fighting. [see more]
Cataphracts - Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires, Erich B. Anderson. Looks at the heavily armoured horsemen found in armies across the Ancient Middle East, most famously in the armies of Parthia, Persia and the Byzantines. Traces the development of heavily armoured troops, their use in battle, the variants in use with different powers, and their eventual decline during the Byzantine period. A useful single volume history of the heaviest cavalry type of the ancient world. [read full review]
The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III 223-187 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the life and achievements of Antiochus III, one of the most successful of the Seleukid Emperors, but now best remembered for his defeats at the hands of the Romans. During a long reign he regained control of most areas that had been claimed by his predecessors, defeated the Ptolomies, secured most of Asia Minor, but overstretched himself with an invasion of Thrace and his activities in mainland Greece, which helped trigger the clash with Rome. [read full review]
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the PtolemiesAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 2: Wars in Hellenistic Egypt, kingdom of the Ptolemies Focuses on Ptolemaic Egypt, the most successful and long-lived of the successor kingdoms to the empire of Alexander the Great. Includes interesting articles on Julius Caesar's period of urban warfare in Alexandria, the massive warships of the Ptolemaic navy, and away from the theme on the value of 'Barbarian' troops to the Late Roman Empire. Nice to have a focus on Ptolemaic Egypt in its own right, rather than as part of someone else's story.. [see more]
The Fall of the Seleukid Empire, 187-75 BC, John D. Grainger. Looks at the last century of the Seleukid Empire, a period of near constant decline, repeated civil wars and family disputes that eventually saw this powerful empire dwindle away and disappear. A good, convincing narrative produced from a limited number of available sources, following the decline of what was once the largest of the successor states to Alexander the Great [read full review]
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Dawn of the Horse Warriors - Chariot and Cavalry Warfare 3000-600BC, Duncan Noble. Looks at the history of chariot warfare in the pre-classical world, a period in which chariots were found across a vast area stretching from the edges of the Greek world south to Egypt and all the way to China. Written by an experimental archaeologist who has been involved with reconstructing chariots, and so combines a good use of the ancient sources with an understanding of what was actually possible. [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Vol IX, Issue 3: Mighty Rulers of Anatolia - Hittites and their successors. Focuses on the Hittites, one of the great empires of pre-classical antiquity, and takes great advantage of the surprising range of documents that have survived from that period. Includes a set of rules for the Guards and horse training instructions. Also looks at Hittite fortifications, the Hittite army and the Neo-Hittite kingdoms.   [see more]
The Carthaginians 6th-2nd Century BC, Andrea Salimbeti and Raffaele D'Amato. Mainly looks at the land forces fielded by Carthage during the period between its first campaigns on Sicily and its destruction by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War. Includes the native Carthaginian and more numerous mercenary forces and looks at some of the less familiar campaigns fought by Carthage. [read full review]
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The Rise of the Seleukid Empire 323-223 BC, John D Grainger . Looks at the rise and first fall of the Seleucid Empire, the largest successor state to emerge from the collapse of Alexander the Great's Empire. Starts with the rise of the Empire under the impressive Seleucus I and ends with the accession of Antiochus III, the subject of volume two in the series. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 3. Swift as the Wind Across the Plains: Horsemen of the steppes. Mainly focusing on the Scythians, the nomadic horsemen found to the north of the Greek and Persian worlds. A valuable look at a culture that is often only seen as the enemy from beyond the edge of civilisation, but that was much more complex.. [see more] Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribe
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 4 . Movement and supply: Logistics and the army train. Looks at how the realities of supplying an army impacted on warfare in the Ancient World, covering a wide range of topics from Assyria and Babylon to the mobile late Roman army. Also looks at the warrior in Greek lyric poetry and the nature of Mithraism.. [see more]
Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece, Josho Brouwers. Looks at warfare during the Mycenaean period, the Greek Dark Ages, the rise of the Hoplite and the Persian Wars. Supported by good full colour photos and illustrations, this is an interesting look at a less well known period of Ancient Greek history. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient world. Looks at a range of famous traitors in the Ancient World, stretching from the Biblical David up to Cataline's Revolt during the late Roman Republic, and a variety of types of betrayal, from internal revolt to siding with external enemies.. [see more]

Warfare in the Ancient World, Brian Todd Carey, Joseph B. Allfree & John Cairns. Looks at twenty-one major battles and the armies that fought them, and traces how warfare developed over the long span of Ancient History. Written as an undergraduate textbook the result is a useful overview of four and a half thousand years of military history, supported by some excellent battle maps. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 1: Warriors of the Nile - Conflict in Ancient Egypt. Looks at the sources for Ancient Egyptian military history, the equipment buried with Tutankhamen, the battle of Kadesh, Egypt's fortified borders, the Hyksos, and letters between the major Kings of the period. Also looks at the standards held by the Roman Legion and a clash between an outpost of Macedonian civilisation in central Asia and the Han Empire of China. [read full review]
Bronze Age Military Equipment, Dan Howard. A detailed survey of Bronze Age weapons, armour and shields, focusing mainly on the rare survivals and the textual evidence to try and reproduce the military equipment of the Near East, Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. A very valuable summary of the current state of knowledge on this early period in military history. [read full review]
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The Wars of the Maccabees, John D. Grainger. A military history of the hundred years of warfare between the revolt of the Maccabees in 167BC and the Roman conquest of the Hasmonean kingdom and their capture of Jerusalem in 63BC. The author does an excellent job of comparing the Jewish and other sources to produce a more realistic assessment of the conquests and achievements of the Hasmonean kings. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol V Issue 4: Sieges and Terror Tactics, The Assyrian Empire at War. Focuses on a fascinating period, the increasingly well documented Assyrians, one of the earliest known empires, and a civilisation that lasted for a millennium and a half. Also includes an attempt to reconstruct key elements of the battle of Marathon, a fake Roman helmet and the debate over Diocletian's possible reforms of the Roman army. [read full review]
Twilight of the Hellenistic World, Mike Roberts and Bob Bennett. A fascinating history of the last thirty years before the Romans began to dominate the Hellenistic World, looking at the struggles between Macedon, the Greek Leagues, the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires, a resurgent Sparta and the kings of Asia Minor at the end of the third century BC. [read full review]
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Holy Wars: 3,000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land, Gary L. Rashba. An interesting selection of incidents from the long and warlike history of the Holy Land, ranging from the Israelite conquest to the modern Arab-Israeli Wars. Includes a good mix of ancient, medieval and modern conflicts. A bit lacking in analysis of the value of early religious sources, but otherwise sound. [read full review]
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