The Great Armies of Antiquity

The Great Armies of Antiquity

The Great Armies of Antiquity

The Great Armies of Antiquity

Synopsis

Gabriel examines 18 ancient army systems, examining the organizational structure and weapons employed and the degree to which cultural values and imperatives shaped the form and application of military force. The tactical doctrines and specific operational capabilities of each army are analyzed to explain how certain technical limitations and societal/cultural imperatives affected the operational capabilities of ancient armies. Cross-cultural and cross-historical connections ground the analysis in the larger historical context of the ancient world.

Excerpt

Why did the author write this book? What does it offer the reader? What can one learn from it? These are legitimate questions to ask of any book. In the case of The Great Armies of Antiquity, by Richard A. Gabriel, the subject matter raises additional questions. What does one obtain from a study of ancient armies? Has not the world changed so radically since the time of the ancient Assyrians, Greeks, or Romans that their experiences have been overcome by events? Has not the enormous change in technology negated the utility of studying military organizations armed with spears and bows? The implication of this line of reasoning is that ancient history is not an appropriate subject for serious scholarship except, perhaps, in the limited world of archeologists and classicists. History in general and military history in particular labors under the constant burden of perceived irrelevance. Historians often bemoan the fact that the common man does not take his craft seriously, demanding instead demonstrable modern utility. Better to face the issue head-on than to ignore it. What, then, makes the study of ancient armies important, and how is it useful in the modern world?

One might begin by citing Santayana's aphorism about those who do not learn from history being doomed to repeat it. Or, one might offer Richard Neustadt's and Ernest May's not quite so familiar but more compelling thesis from Thinking in Time that everything has a history

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