It is so true that history is written by the winners. While I found this book to be well written and reasonably interesting, it wasn’t terribly engaging. Most of it was the story of troop movements, battle formations and tactics and not stories of the man himself. He remains to me almost as mysterious as he was before I read this, only knowing of him through the eyes of Roman accounts and personalities. Carthage must be destroyed, indeed. What’s left of source material about Hannibal is twisted by Roman propaganda of the time and historical axe-grinding (Livy is a perfect example of this) and so makes for a vague biography of a man who must have been quite feared if his name ended up so blackened by his enemies. Still, his name lives on and is more famous even than his enemy’s, the victor Publius Scipio Africanus so I guess the winners can’t have everything.
There’s nothing of Hannibal’s childhood or education, political struggles in coming to power or his domestic life and children; the things we need to fully engage with him as a person, not just a persona. Even his military tactics and planning were shrouded in mystery, told through the fact of their occurrence more than why Hannibal did what he did. I’d love to be able to read about conversations and meetings he had with his subordinates. I’d love to know why he seemed so indecisive after winning key battles. For example after Cannae, why didn’t he march on Rome itself? The Roman army was basically wiped out and nothing stood in his way, but he held back and instead marched through Italia confiscating crops. I would like to have known what it was like to be persuaded by his charisma as his whole army must have been or else they would have mutinied on more than one occasion during their long and arduous campaigns.
What information there was to be had Lamb worked into an interesting and well crafted storyline. Of course much of the story is about battles and who won what and when. Not only when Hannibal was in command of troops, but his father Hamilcar and others like Hasdrubal. At the time Lamb wrote the book he says that military historians still had not found out which route exactly Hannibal took over the Alps in his famous march. Amazing. Is it weird that I felt more sympathy for the poor elephants than I did for the soldiers?
One complaint I have is for the audio publishing company – why didn’t you include maps??? It’s not so hard people. Luckily I have plenty of other physical books with maps so I could picture the movements, locations and distances. For those without maps in their homes, a quick trip to Hannibal’s Wikipedia page will definitely help.
Oh and damn Charlton Griffin and his butchery of language and pronunciation. I'm so disappointed that he's so often chosen for these classical works. He even has trouble with English!
I would recommend tis book to anyone who has an interest in this particular part of ancient history. (200 BC)
Hannibal was my favorite character because the book goes into detail about his reasoning behind the great invasion. It also shows how Rome was
He did a great job changing voices and reserved a deeper voice for Hannibal. His performance was outstanding.
The part when Hannibal and his army was crossing the Alps. The sacrifice his men had to endure to survive this march is remarkable.
If you are interested in the days of the Roman Republic (200 BC) and want to listen to a very thorough review of Hannibal and the invasion of Italy this is the book for you. I can not rate this book high enough and will in a few weeks listen to it again.
Hannibal's qualities as a leader are clearly shown.
The sad ending of his life after all that he had achieved
Inanely pompous. So pretentious as to sound like a new language. For example, his pronounciation of the word officer as OH--fizzer throughout the entire book. I often found myself wondering what various words meant until i realized that they were everyday English words spoken through a pompous mouthful of marbles.
At best a reasonable if familiar tale. At worst, the author frequently lapses into pseudo biblical prose for example, armies are 'beset' not attacked. Scenes are described in florid tones that would not have been out of place in a Victorian novel.
Yes. Great way to learn about a neglected part of ancient history
Learning how Rome rose to power
Learn how one man almost stopped the future
Harold Lamb gives us a thorough history of Rome’s rise to Mediterranean superpower with his biography of Hannibal. I think that the significance of the Second Punic War is never highlighted in history. Rome’s defeat of Hannibal solidified its control of the Italian peninsula and the western, Mediterranean. Rome’s conquered territory in Iberia (Spain) and Africa, made her an empire. Only Hannibal seemed to grasp the threat of increasing Roman power for his city as well as the rest of the Mediterranean world. He saw the future. Through his struggles, we see how the history of the ancient world unfolded much more vividly than the typical dry narrative.
At the beginning of part 2 Lamb says the Capuans were discussing the medicine of Galen. This is 215 BC. Galen was not born until 129 AD. I find it astonishing no one ever noticed this! But I love Griffin's read. I just hope there aren't too many of these mistakes......ones I haven't caught.
The story of Hannibal is interesting and worth listening to -- he was a truly unique character among history's greatest warriors. The book's writing style veers a bit too much toward summary rather than detail, which I found disappointing. There are some detailed descriptions of the conflicts with Romans, but just as many are glossed over without a real attempt to set the scene. Overall, the writing style lacked drama. The reader's clipped English accent made the story "listen" like a college lecture rather than the adventure it should have been. I would suggest that those truly interested in their history listen to this book but those expeting a bit more flare from a tale look elsewhere.
Besides being historically inaccurate, like when a roman legion is described in form it only took after reforms of Marius, this book simply goes through the most basic and well known facts of Hannibal's career. One might as well Google or Wikipedia Hannibal and get more and more accurate information on the mans life.
In short do not waste your money on this book.