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Caesar's Great Success (Hardback)

Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign

Ancient History Frontline Books Rome Frontline: Ancient Military

By Alexander Merrow, Gregory Starace, Agostino von Hassell
Frontline Books
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 8
ISBN: 9781473855878
Published: 31st March 2020

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Logistics have become a principle, if not a governing factor, in modern military operations. Armies need to be fed and supplied and the larger the army, the greater the logistical difficulties that have to be overcome. Two thousand years ago, when communications were far more primitive, the size of armies was limited by the difficulties of supply. It was because the Romans developed a sophisticated supply system that they were able to maintain large armies in the field – armies that conquered much of the then known world.

In Caesar's Great Success: Sustaining the Roman Army on Campaign the authors examine and detail the world's first ever fully-developed logistical supply system – the forerunner of today’s complex arrangements. This includes an examination of the sea, river and land transportation of food while on campaign, and of how the food was assembled at the operational bases and subsequently distributed.

The defence of the Roman food supplies, and especially of lines of communication, was an important factor in Caesar’s operational planning, as was interdicting the enemy’s supplies.

The eating habits of Caesar’s men are considered and what items could be obtained locally by forage and which were taken by requisition – and how much food a legionnaire was expected to carry on campaign.

With this, the nature of the actual food consumed by the legionnaires is therefore examined and sample recipes are provided with each chapter of the book to enable the reader to relive those momentous days when Caesar and Rome ruled the world.

A good look at how he kept his army feed during battles and on travel from place to place. It looks at one aspect of Caesar and battle - food. Good for those who like this kind of topic.

NetGalley, Alexandra Roth

From a military history perspective, the book answers many questions about the logistics required to successfully deliver supplies to a large Roman army, over extremely long distances. Caesar was particularly effective in planning the various means of transportation and quantities required to feed his men and horses while on campaign in foreign lands. This has many recent parallels in modern military logistical doctrine and strategy, some of which are covered by the authors. Interestingly even though we now have the benefit of being rapidly being supplied by air, modern armies still move vast amounts of supplies by ships and trucks.
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The weight of equipment and food often carried by the legionnaires was quite staggering, especially considering that after a day-long march they were expected to build a fortified camp and/or fight a battle. Even modern-day elite soldiers would find this a challenge.

Perhaps understandably, the book reads as an academic thesis, being lightened somewhat by some interesting Roman recipes. However, one recipe could have been left out of the book ‘Caesars Salad’ - absolutely nothing to do with Caesar or Roman cuisine apart from the name!

The amount of research undertaken by the three authors Alexander Merrow, Gregory Starace, and Agostino von Hassell is impressive, the list of references is immense! I would love to know how they were able to successfully and seamlessly collaborate in writing the book.

NetGalley, Peter Coxall

I wish I read this book earlier! As a history student, I love reading history books, especially about my favourite time periods. I've been obsessed with ancient Rome and Julius Caesar for years now and I love reading any book I can get my hands on. I found it super interesting how they described the logistics of the army. I took a class on ancient warfare and this book would have been an interesting read during that class! Kind of makes me want to learn more about military history.

NetGalley, Jia Samra

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Last year I read an article by an American general about the food, water and cooking requirements of the Israelites when they left Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert. The numbers were staggering - I think at one point he said that a train would have to be half a mile long pulling water tankers to ensure they all get enough liquid - each day! But there were no notes on transporting this amount of food and water aside from supernatural provision which the Bible talks about.

So when Caesar's great Success poppped up puporting to explain what soldiers in his army ate, and how it was transported I jumped at the chance to read it. Caesar is lauded for his military skill and political acumen but he is also responsible for transporting supplies for up to 57,000 men - or finding food for them if it is not available (due to raids, loss of baggage etc.)

The book is fascinating! It also even has receipies for Tack (hard bread), soldier's wine and other items. The writing style is professional but friendly in tone - it is staggeringly interesting and I will look forward to other books by the author. A book that really fills a gap in the literature that few had considered existed!

NetGalley, Joshua Cartwright

About Alexander Merrow

Alexander Merrow studied history and German at Denison University before completing a masters’ degree in history at Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in European history at Georgetown University, writing his dissertation in the field of Modern German History. He taught European History at Georgetown University, Franklin & Marshall College, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the co-author of numerous works of military history and, under a nom de plume, the author of numerous works of fiction.


About Gregory Starace

Gregory Starace is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Unites States Marines, who is on his nineteenth year of active duty. He has served in and travelled across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, and the Indian subcontinent – visiting countless Roman ruins, military locations, and museum collections along the way. He has a B.A. in History from the George Washington University, M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, and M.A. in National Security Affairs with a focus on Africa from Naval Postgraduate School. Additionally, he is re-enactor with over 30 years of re-enacting experience across a number of periods, including Imperial Rome.


About Agostino von Hassell

Agostino von Hassell studied history at Columbia University, graduating in 1974, and attended Columbia Journalism School, graduating in 1975. He has taught on leadership in the graduate program of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in New York. He has written extensively on military and food history and has authored books including Military High Life: Elegant Food Histories and Recipes, Alliance of Enemies: The Untold Story of the Secret American and German Collaboration to End World War II, In Honor of America, West Point: The Bicentennial Book, Strike Force: U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations, and Warriors: The United States Marines.

Perfect Partner

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Two thousand years ago Julius Caesar came, saw and conquered southern Britain, but just where he landed and the precise routes his army marched through the south of the country have never been firmly established. Numerous sites have been suggested for the Roman landings of 55BC and 54BC, yet, remarkably, the exact locations of the first major events in recorded British history remain undiscovered – until now. After years of careful analysis, Roger Nolan has painstakingly traced not only the places where the Romans landed, but he has also discovered four temporary marching camps Caesar’s army…

By Roger Nolan

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