Ancient Battle Formations (Hardback)
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Justin Swanton examines the principal battle-winning formations of the Ancient world, determining their composition, function and efficacy. An introductory chapter looks at the fundamental components of the principal battle formations of heavy and light infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots, showing how they bolstered the individual's soldier's willingness to fight.
The rest of the book focuses on massed infantry that reigned supreme in this era: the heavily armoured Greek hoplite phalanx that was immune to the weaponry of its non-Greek opponents; the Macedonian pike phalanx that was unbeatable against frontal attacks so long as it kept order; the Roman triplex acies which, contrary to popular opinion, consisted of continuous lines in open order, with file spaces wide enough to allow embattled infantry to fall back after which those files closed up instantly against the enemy.
A careful study of the Greek and Latin of the sources sheds fresh light on how these formations were organized and worked, re-evaluating many conventional notions and leading to some surprising conclusions.
This book is both important for its thoroughly researched, original and well-argued historical conclusions and an enjoyable read. Highly recommended.Review by Prof. F Noel Zaal (BA, LLB University of Natal, LLM Durban-Westville, LLM Columbia, PhD Wits)
Readers in ancient military history of the Classical period will certainly find Swanton’s approach and conclusions stimulating.Beating Tsundoku
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Review by Jason HubbardIrregular magazine, issue 14 Volume 2/Winter 2020
This is a great study of the subject matter, as a wargamer I found this a fascinating read, it gave a depth of knowledge that I’m hoping to implement on to the tabletop at some point.
I would definitely say if you’re a wargamer, this one history book you need to get your hands on and read, especially if you play Ancient wargaming or Pike and shot.
I also think this will appeal to military historians as well, as it provides a great insight into the organization of effectiveness of these formations on the battlefield. This is one of those books that many a wargamer would be happy to find in their stocking on Christmas morning.
This would be a great read for both military history enthusiasts as well as Wargammers (The author is the editor of Slingshot, the magazine of the Society of Ancients). There is also some interesting research that would be useful for re-enactors of the period.Medieval Sword School
This is an excellent book focussed on one specific aspect of warfare, and while it sounds pretty mundane, this is an excellent look at formations.
There are also lots of copies of statues and drawings form the period to help reinforce the author’s views.
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This book is an unique history book focusing on ancient battles and battle formations and recommended to anyone interested in historical warfare.NetGalley, Sumit RK
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Sophrosyne T
"A careful study of the Greek and Latin of the sources sheds fresh light on how these formations were organized and worked, re-evaluating many conventional notions and leading to some surprising conclusions."
This got me in the first place.
The author has done a fantastic job of describing the battle formations.
The book is neither to cliche or boring.
This provides a different insight on the fighting skills of Greek and Roman people.
The Macedonian pike phalanx dominated the battlefields of Greece and the Near and Middle East for over two centuries. It was one of the most successful infantry formations of the ancient world, only rivalled by the manipular formation of the Roman legions. The phalanx was a key factor in the battlefield success of Alexander the Great and after his death dominated the armies of his Successors (the Diadochoi), who ruled from Greece and Egypt to the borders of India. Richard Taylor gives an overview of the phalanx’s development, organization, equipment and training. He analyses the reasons for…By Dr Richard Taylor
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