The Ghosts of Cannae
Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic
By Robert L. O'Connell
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812978674, 336pp.)
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
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For millennia, Carthage’s triumph over Rome at Cannae in 216 B.C. has inspired reverence and awe. No general since has matched Hannibal’s most unexpected, innovative, and brutal military victory. Now Robert L. O’Connell, one of the most admired names in military history, tells the whole story of Cannae for the first time, giving us a stirring account of this apocalyptic battle, its causes and consequences.
O’Connell brilliantly conveys how Rome amassed a giant army to punish Carthage’s masterful commander, how Hannibal outwitted enemies that outnumbered him, and how this disastrous pivot point in Rome’s history ultimately led to the republic’s resurgence and the creation of its empire. Piecing together decayed shreds of ancient reportage, the author paints powerful portraits of the leading players, from Hannibal—resolutely sane and uncannily strategic—to Scipio Africanus, the self-promoting Roman military tribune. Finally, O’Connell reveals how Cannae’s legend has inspired and haunted military leaders ever since, and the lessons it teaches for our own wars.
Robert L. O’Connell has worked as a senior analyst at the National Ground Intelligence Center, as a contributing editor to MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, and most recently as a visiting professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is the author of Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression; Sacred Vessels: The Cult of the Battleship and the Rise of the U.S. Navy; Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War; Soul of the Sword: An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present; and the novel Fast Eddie.
Ancient Rome is often thought of as consistently victorious but its defeat at the hands of Carthage in 216 B.C. is one of the most studied and imitated battles of all time. Historian Robert L. O'Connell tells the story of Carthage's unexpected victory in The Ghosts of Cannae. More at NPR.org
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“A masterpiece of style, imagination, and erudition.”—Victor Davis Hanson, author of A War Like No Other
“Outstanding . . . [a] superb chronicle of events that shaped the fate of Western civilization.”—Booklist
“[O’Connell] is able to put himself and his reader on the ground at Cannae, gagging in the heat of a southern Italian midsummer, assailed by an overload from every one of the five senses.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Dramatic and comprehensive . . . O’Connell has established the new standard for studies of the second conflict between Rome and Carthage.”—Publishers Weekly
“[O’Connell] writes with clarity about an era shrouded in speculation.”—Providence Journal-Bulletin