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Roman Special Forces and Special Ops (Hardback)

Speculatores, Exploratores, Protectores and Areani in the Service of Rome

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Military

By Simon Elliott
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781399090926
Published: 1st April 2023
Last Released: 30th June 2023

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Much has been written about the Roman army and the mighty legions that conquered their empire and then defended it for centuries against all comers. But little has been written about the men and units employed when something more subtle than the march of legions into pitched battle was required. This is the only book available dedicated to Roman special ops and the role of the Speculatores, Exploratores, Protectores and Areani.

Simon Elliott reveals the kinds of special operations conducted by the Romans: tactical scouting ahead of the legions, covert strategic reconnaissance in neighbouring states, espionage, assassination or abduction of dissidents and enemies, counter-insurgency, and close protection of Roman officials and commanders. While such missions were frequently executed by ad-hoc units or individuals detailed for that specific mission, the author goes on to reveal the evidence for the aforementioned specialist units. He concludes with an analysis of the extent to which these various forces corresponded to a modern conception of Special Forces. These men were the eyes and ears of the Empire, the deadly tip of the Roman sword.

Review as featured in

VaeVictis Magazine, September 2023

"I would recommend the book to those looking to expand their knowledge of the Roman Army in this particular area, or those who study military intelligence operations throughout history."

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Magazine - No126

Full review available at: https://www.hmgs.org/blogpost/1779451/492396/BOOK-REVIEW-Roman-Special-Forces-and-Special-Ops

Russ Lockwood, Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

An impressively well written, eloquent, and detailed historical account, "Roman Special Forces and Special Ops: Speculatores, Exploratores, Protectores and Areani in the Service of Rome" by Roman history expert Simon Elliott is a seminal, ground-breaking, impressively detailed, well documented, and truly exceptional work of meticulous and original scholarship that is enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Conclusion, and Appendix (Enemies of the Roman Republic and Empire), a section of photographic images, a ten page Reference and Bibliography list, and a three page Index. Of immense interest and value to academia and the non-specialist reader alike, "Roman Special Forces and Special Ops" is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for community, college, and university library Roman Military History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Roman Special Forces and Special Ops" is also readily available in a digital book format.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

As featured in

Ancient Warfare Magazine

4 out of 5

Anyone who wants to know more about Roman history will have an interest in this book. It adds a fascinating insight into the Roman Army and also shows how politics were affected by the intelligence agencies of the day.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

It’s a fantastic oversight of an fascinating history of the Roman Army that’s rarely explored!

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Alalhambra Book Reviews

4 out of 5

Roman Special Forces & Special Ops is an interesting historical read, an example that one can still read and learn from history books instead of just plain action games (nothing against it, of course).

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Wild Writing Life

5 out of 5

I would highly recommend this for not only fans of Roman history but military history and the history of special forces and ops.

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What You Tolkien About

I learnt so much and can’t wait to drop random facts about Roman special forces and special ops into conversation!

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Lifelong History Lover

4 out of 5

Absolutely a fun book – and definitely one that will give you a different viewpoint on some of the long-held opinions on the Roman military, and their standing in history.

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A Tale of Two Pages

Article: 'Did Ancient Rome use 'Special Forges'?'

History of War

About Simon Elliott

Dr Simon Elliott is an award winning and best selling archaeologist, historian and broadcaster with a PhD in Classics and Archaeology from the University of Kent where he is now an Honorary Research Fellow. He has an MA in Archaeology from UCL and an MA in War Studies from KCL. Simon is widely published with numerous works in print on various themes relating to the ancient world, with a particular focus on the Roman military, and he makes frequent appearances on TV as a Roman expert. Simon lectures widely to universities, local history societies and archaeological groups, is co-Director of a Roman villa excavation, a Trustee of the Council for British Archaeology and an Ambassador for Museum of London Archaeology. He is also a Guide Lecturer for Andante Travels and President of the Society of Ancients.

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