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Rome and Parthia: Empires at War (Hardback)

Ventidius, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War, 40-20 BC

Ancient History Rome Pre WWI Military

By Gareth C Sampson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
ISBN: 9781526710130
Published: 28th July 2020

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In the mid-first century BC, despite its military victories elsewhere, the Roman Empire faced a rival power in the east; the Parthian Empire. The first war between two superpowers of the ancient world had resulted in the total defeat of Rome and the death of Marcus Crassus. When Rome collapsed into Civil War in the 40s BC, the Parthians took the opportunity to invade and conquer the Middle East and drive Rome back into Europe. What followed was two decades of war which saw victories and defeats on both sides. The Romans were finally able to gain a victory over the Parthians thanks to the great, but now neglected, general Publius Ventidius. These victories acted as a springboard for Marc Antony’s plans to conquer the Parthian Empire, which ended in ignominious defeat. Gareth Sampson analyses the military campaigns and the various battles between the two superpowers of the ancient world and the war which defined the shape and division of the Middle East for the next 650 years.

Sampson tells an engaging and balanced story of two major powers slugging it out and the minor powers caught between them; all of which takes place in the chaotic collapse of the Roman Republic and various Parthian civil wars. The narrative is slanted to the Romans because of the lack of sources on the Parthian side, but Sampson winkles out what he can and makes educated guesses where he hits blank spaces. He also incorporates many of the sources into the narrative... this is a first rate military history of an often confusing theatre of war.

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Beating Tsundoku

“…a useful book for a general audience, with excellent narratives of events on the ground and much analysis of evidence that is convincing, to varying degrees. [T]he audience will certainly come away with a better understanding of the frontier policies and goals of Mark Antony, his allies, his subordinates, and his enemies.”

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Bryn Mawr Classical Review

This is an excellent account of this relatively unfamiliar war, combined with a useful history of the Roman East in troubled times.

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History of War

A good read for those interested in Roman history, and particularly for Sampson's "rescue" of Ventidius from obscurity.

The NYMAS Review, Winter 2020-2021

A very interesting read, entertaining as well as being very informative.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

This marvellous book provides much needed information on a little-known period of Roman Empire history.

Books Monthly
 Gareth C Sampson

About Gareth C Sampson

After a successful career in corporate finance, Gareth C Sampson returned to the study of ancient Rome and gained his PhD from the University of Manchester, where he taught for a number of years. He now lives in Plymouth with his wife and children.

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