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Great Walls and Linear Barriers (Hardback)

Ancient History Military

By Peter Spring
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 370
ISBN: 9781848843776
Published: 23rd February 2015



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Everyone has heard of the Great Wall of China and knows of Hadrian's Wall and the other barriers lining stretches of Rome's imperial frontiers. But Peter Spring's original new study demonstrates that far from being exceptional, the building of walls and other linear defences was commonplace among the peoples and states of pre-modern era. He finds examples virtually all across the globe and analyses their forms and strategic functions. He finds patterns for their distribution, an important recurrent theme being the divide between settled agriculture and nomads. The author argues that it is mistaken to view such undertakings as necessarily purely defensive measures that might be evidence of insecurity or a 'maginot line mentality', as they were in fact often about aggressive assertion of control over a region or strategic routes.

This original and thought-provoking study brings new light and insight to a fascinating and neglected aspect of human political and military history. It The clear text is supported by numerous, specially drawn maps and photographs.

We could say that the book is a kind of catalog, with a historical, academic and documentary value in full rule. This is an interesting bit of work with a fresh and current perspective.

Read the full Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

The book looks at how the walls worked, how they were named and their purposes.

It is unusual, extremely well researched and perfect for anyone interested in military or landscape history.

I am just surprised that no one has looked in such detail at the subject before – it is a topic that is long overdue. Although an academic book, it is quite readable and accessible for the general reader as well.

Monsters and Critics

Great Walls and Linear Barriers will interest many FSG colleagues and is highly recommended.

Fortress Study Group No. 106

If one asks most people what they know about ancient linear fortifications they will doubtless mention the Great Wall of China and Hadrian's Wall. The more erudite might go on to list Offa's Dyke, the Antonine Wall and sundry other European constructions, but fairly soon they run out of examples. This book sets out to correct this by providing an encyclopaedic study of all significant linear fortifications throughout the world and from earlier history until the cherta used by the Russians to defeat the Tartars in the 16th-18th centuries...

... This book has substantially extended my knowledge of ancient linear fortifications.

Slingshot, January - February 2016 - Nick Harbud

This is a book that manages to cover a huge spread of history without seeming to be thin in any part of the period covered. That is a major achievement. The author has also succeeded in providing an indexed collection of subjects that still read as part of long and unfolding story. Readers may be very surprised by just how important and enduring linear barriers have been and how they are likely to persist long into the future. A very interesting story that goes far beyond the technology of building walls... The author has to be admired for producing such a comprehensive and thought-provoking book. There must be barriers he has missed, and some may yet to be uncovered, but the work produces a feel of completeness. The extensive illustration by maps, drawings and photographs adds to this feeling of the comprehensive... This is a provoking book that presents a number of persuasive assertions to explain the importance of linear barriers throughout history around the world. There are many surprises and the reader will look at these structures with fresh insight after reading the book.

FIRE Project

This is a book that has been well researched and is presented in a clear and readable manner, with diagrams and photographs that make it a pleasure to read. Peter Spring is a many talented man... This is his first book - I look forward to his next


Peter Spring gives a very thorough survey of wall and linear barriers through time in this new publication. The book is full of original research and fills a gap in the many publications that tend to focus on one particular wall or period... An easy read that provides an impressive and unique catalogue of walls and linear barriers, and makes a valuable and thought provoking contribution to this area of history.

Hexam Local History Society

About Peter Spring

Peter Spring is a financial consultant by training but also holds an MA in Medieval Art History from the Courtauld Institute. He is has always been keenly interested in military history and has served in the Territorial Army in an Intelligence role. He lives in Southeast London. This is his first book.

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