Dyck’s debut history is an account of ancient Rome’s major encounters with barbarians.
Combining a thirst for expansion with a disciplined, powerful military, the ancient Romans built an empire that spread across the Mediterranean and beyond. With such an expansive empire, the military was constantly engaged by opposing forces. As Rome sought to extend its territories north into modern-day England, France and Germany, the empire met with particularly difficult resistance from Germanic and Gallic tribes. These tribes, though lacking the same level of military sophistication as the Roman legions, were able to inflict serious damage upon the Roman Empire, perhaps even hastening its eventual downfall. Dyck’s details of ancient battles and the people involved provide as much sword-slashing excitement as any fictional account. The book suffers, however, from a lack of greater context and analysis. Readers new to the history of ancient Rome may find it difficult to navigate the various warring tribes and battlegrounds without further explanatory material. Although the book begins with a brief overview of the founding of Rome, information about the motivation behind the empire’s dangerous expansion campaigns—which caused the “barbarian wars” of the title—is conspicuously light. While much of the information on Julius Caesar’s campaigns comes from the writing of Caesar himself, there is no mention of when or why Caesar did this writing, or the tradition of the Roman memoir that made this writing possible. Other sources, though well documented, at times prove disappointing; citations of Wikipedia, even for minor information, may be acceptable for informal discussions but hardly belong in a book meant to be taken as a serious work of history.
Compelling battle scenes, but too advanced for beginners and too basic for scholars.