35 Followers
18 Following
strangefate

Tower of Iron Will

All who enter the Tower regain 100 sanity points.

Currently reading

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die
Randall Munroe, James Foreman, K. Sekelsky, Camron Miller, John Chernega, David Michael Wharton, K.M. Lawrence, Jeffrey C. Wells, Vera Brosgol, Kit Yona, J. Jack Unrau, Jeff Stautz, Aaron Diaz, Matthew Bennardo, Yahtzee Croshaw, Douglas J. Lane, Brian Quinlan, Kate Beaton

Consistent Competence Defeats Unpredictable Genius

The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC - Adrian Goldsworthy

The Punic Wars are a favorite of military history buffs. Rome's three wars with Carthage were the beginnings of its empire extending beyond Italy, also Carthage was the only opponent Rome ever faced that was at the time its military and economic equal. Most of the Punic Wars fascination centers on the Carthaginian commander Hannibal, who is usually ranked as one of the greatest military geniuses of all time. In particular, the Battle of Cannae is singled out as the definitive example of a brilliant commander making perfect use of the terrain and all his resources to defeat a much larger opposing army.

 

Goldsworthy's book is very much a military history. He does touch on the causes of the wars, but I would have appreciated a little more detail in that area, and some more exploration of the cultural and religious differences between Carthage and Rome. Goldsworthy focuses on the commanders and the battles, on Carthage's reliance on mercenaries while Rome's army consisted primarily of citizen soldiers. He relates how Carthage's navy initially dominated the Mediterranean, and how Rome quickly built a navy from scratch that ultimately defeated Carthage's more experienced sailors. I now know more about the differences between triremes and quinqueremes than I ever expected to.

 

Military historians, while popular with lay readers of history, are a minority among professional historians. Academic historians tend to focus on the vast socioeconomic forces that cause wars and ultimately determine the winners and losers. While I tend to agree with the socioeconomic interpretations, there are times when history turned on the unpredictable actions of individuals. Interestingly the Punic Wars can be used to support both arguments. While Rome never found a commander to rival Hannibal, the relentless Roman war machine ultimately destroyed Carthage. In the end consistent competence defeated unpredictable genius.