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Spartacus and the Slave War 73-71 BC: A gladiator rebels against Rome (Anglais) Broché – 21 juillet 2009


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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

This Osprey Campaign title brings to life the story of Rome's most famous revolt, the Slave War (73-71 BC), and the ex-gladiator who led it. In the year 73 BC, the Thracian Spartacus broke out of the gladiatorial training school at Capua in Campainia. A charismatic leader, Spartacus formed an army of runaway slaves and people with little to lose, and defeated the Roman troops under the praetor C. Claudius Glaber. With this minor victory, Spartacus' army swelled to 70,000 and rampaged throughout Campania assaulting a number of cities and defeating two consular armies.

Terrified lest the revolt spread across the republic, the government assigned M. Licinius Crassus the task of crushing the revolt. Crassus' first attempt to capture Spartacus failed, and the Roman senate called upon Pompey to help him. Together, they cornered Spartacus and brought him to battle near the source of the river Silarus. During the battle, Spartacus was killed and his army defeated. Crassus crucified 6,000 prisoners as an example to others who might think of revolt.

Biographie de l'auteur

Dr. Nic Fields started his career as a biochemist before joining the Royal Marines. Having left the military, he went back to University and completed a BA and PhD in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle. He was Assistant Director at the British School at Athens, Greece, and then a lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh. Nic is now a freelance author and researcher based in south-west France.


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 96 pages
  • Editeur : Osprey Publishing (21 juillet 2009)
  • Collection : Campaign
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1846033535
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846033537
  • Dimensions du produit: 18,3 x 0,8 x 24,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 113.082 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Vieux Fidéle le 22 juillet 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Révoltes serviles, un sujet non traité en langue française...comme tant d'autres !
Aussi bonne initiative même si il ne semble pas y avoir beaucoup d'infos historiques fiables à nous transmettre.
Remet un peu la dure réalité de la splendeur de Rome à sa place, triste empire à rapprocher de celui des USA actuels par sa rapacité et son inhumanité.
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15 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More Social Commentary than Military History 21 août 2009
Par R. A Forczyk - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Writing about ancient military campaigns is very difficult due to the paucity of sources and no matter how interesting the subject, historians cannot work around this fundamental problem. Nevertheless, some historians will try to push on, using speculation and filler material to cover gaps, hoping that readers will focus on the ends, rather than the means. Nic Fields' volume 206 in Osprey's campaign series, Spartacus and the Slave War 73-71 BC, follows this basic format. Even though the author admits that there are less than 4,000 worlds all told in ancient literary sources about Spartacus, he sets about to write a 25,000-word history of the famous gladiator-turned-rebel. There's no doubt that the legend of Spartacus still captures the modern mind, but there is just not enough here to write a viable military history and this volume is actually filled to the brim mostly with filler material and very few facts. To make matters worse, the author chooses to indulge in long-winded discussions about the legend of Spartacus, dragging in modern folks ranging from Voltaire, to Marx, Lenin, to Rosa Luxembourg and Che Guevara. Yes, there's even a photo of Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's film. Yikes!

The volume begins sensibly enough with a 5-page introduction about earlier slave uprisings in Sicily in 135-132 BC and 104-100 BC. Both witnessed slave rebellions that temporarily defeated local Roman militias but which were eventually crushed once the Roman Republic became sufficiently annoyed to send a two-legion consular army to deal with the rebels. Other than pointing out that dynamic, the introduction doesn't relate terribly well to the Spartacus uprising which did not take place in Sicily or under the same conditions. It doesn't appear that either Romans or rebels learned anything from these earlier slave rebellions. The author then provides a 3-page chronology, of which half covers events before Spartacus. Then departing from Osprey Campaign format, the author includes a 13-page section on the Roman social order to discuss slavery, piracy, gladiators and how these factors added up to rebellion. Most readers expecting a straight-up military history will likely view this section as a needless and even annoying diversion, while others may view it as filler material.

The author then jumps back into Osprey format with the normal sections on opposing commanders, armies and plans, none of which say very much. For example, the opposing commanders section only discusses Spartacus (of which the author admits we know next to nothing about the man) and his opponent, Marcus Licinius Crassus. Here we get the usual subjective evaluation: Spartacus was a great soldier and Crassus was a rich guy with an ego. Wasn't this how Kubrick portrayed them? The opposing plans section is better and at least doesn't try to con the reader with modern clap-trap about the rebels fighting for freedom - they wanted out of Italy, Period. Much of the section on the Roman army appears culled from the author's recent volume in the Battle Orders series, but adds little specific about the Roman units that fought in this campaign. In short, these introductory sections provide only a very skimpy foundation for discussing the campaign.

The campaign narrative per se is only 27 pages in length, but actually has barely a dozen pages of text. This is exceedingly thin. Other than broad actions - Spartacus marches north, Crixus splits off with his army, local Roman forces defeated in south - there is very little detail you can actually put your finger on. I'm not sure what kind of Spartacus-related archaeological excavations have occurred in Italy - the author makes only scant mention - but there must be more to go on than just fragments from Livy, Appian and Sallust. When I got to the point that the author discusses the destruction of Crixus' army at Mount Gargano I was struck by his failure to attempt any kind of military analysis. The Roman consular army clearly had to approach the rebel camp by means of a narrow mountain trail - why did the rebels not attempt an ambush? Simply waiting for the Romans to engage them in a set-piece battle seems remarkably foolish, even for rebels. The final show-down between Spartacus and Crassus is covered in a few short paragraphs. Game and match. A 4-page aftermath section covers the extermination of the rebel captives in gory detail, but fails to mention that there were no major slave rebellions after this one. A good historian might have asked, why? Instead, the author plows into a miserable 5-page section on the legacy of Spartacus, which is to say, how this legend was used to justify all sorts of criminal acts in later years. Most people who pick up this volume are not expecting to read about Marx or Lenin or other socialist cretins, but that's what you're going to get. This mis-step is partly compensated for with a final sections that offers good notes on the primary sources used and a nice bibliography and glossary.

The volume includes five 2-D maps (Sicily in 75 BC; Spartacus' movements, summer 73 BC; Spartacus' and Crixus' movements, spring 72 BC; Spartacus' movements, summer 72 BC; Spartacus' movements, spring 71 BC) and two 3-D BEV maps (Mount Garganus, 72 BC; the Silarus River, 71 BC). Simply put, the maps add almost nothing to this volume, due to lack of detail. On the other hand, the three battle scenes by Steve Noon (breakout at Capua; destruction of Crixus; Spartacus rushes at Crassus) aren't bad and several more would have been better than some of the social commentary. In short, there is more social commentary in this volume than military history and it really doesn't not deliver the kind of material that Osprey readers would expect.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good book about the most important slave revolt in the Roman republic 22 juillet 2013
Par Anibal Madeira - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
There are a couple of very good reviews already published regarding this book. One of those is quite critical (but to the point) stating the lack of interpretation by the author and the excessive use of social commentary, the other more amenable and friendly but also with good remarks related to the structure of the book.

For the lack of interpretation, we must consider this book non-adventurous. The author sticks to the sources and I don't find that particularly damning to this piece. Other authors like Barry Strauss, used intelligence and informed suppositions to fill in the blanks and also got numerous critics, calling him speculative, etc. I find both types of historical work useful in their own ways. But the reader must bear into consideration that Fields plays close to the sources.

For the structure of the book I have mixed feelings. The introduction of the "Guide to primary sources" is great, concisely displaying the most important information we can remove from each written source and brief analyses of the authors; also an applause must be given for the very interesting "Roman social order" which in an easy way exposes quickly the reasons, the types of forces the slave army could muster and the social system of the time. But there is also an excessive use of social commentary, of influences of this war to future social theorists, writers, movie directors or politicians. If we would follow the same structure on other campaign series titles, a battle in which Caesar had participated would have at least 60 pages of "influences"; so I don't find particularly useful the chapter "The legacy of Spartacus".

Instead of so many references about influences, Marx, Che Guevara or l'Ouverture, the author should be more careful to the description of the strategic background and geo political situation. The main armies of the republic were engaged in two important conflicts and obviously the most able commanders, Pompeus and Lucullus, were commanding those forces in the Sertorius war and the third Mithridatic war respectively. So Spartacus chose an excellent timing to unleash himself, choosing the military band/army strategy (instead of trying to reach safety in a small group).

But as a sober analysis of the Spartacus war you will be hardly pressed to find a better book. You will find a quick reference to the previous servile wars in Sicily, the description of the forces, including an interesting interpretation of the "pastores" herdsmen and their importance to the slave army, a quick bio about Crassus and Spartcacus, the use of all sources to provide a balanced account of the events and personalities, a good sequence of the campaign with two birds eye view of two of the major engagements (Crixus at mount Garganus and the Silarus river battle); obviously the author would have preferred using at least a Spartacan victory, but the sources on those are very lean on data. The internal art by Steve Noon is superb, representing the "Breakout at Capua"; "Destruction of Crixus" and "Spartacus rushes at Crassus". Most internal photographs are quite useful, including the only possible contemporary representation of Spartacus, good gladiator's photographs (not falling into the trap of using the later more "professional" classification types of the ultra organized imperial spectacle), etc.

This is a very interesting title that can be complemented by the Shaw and Strauss works on the subject.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Myth, reality, and expectations 6 avril 2013
Par JPS - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
As another reviewer mentioned (on the US site), the structure of this Osprey volume is somewhat original because it provides a lot of context. Although it may be a bit harsh to portray it as "more social commentary than military history", it does tend to be a bit light on the latter. This may be because the (Roman) sources are themselves rather discrete on the precise military circumstances during which an army of slaves clashed and repeatedly defeated Roman forces, including consular armies. It may also reflect the author's deliberate choice to develop the historical context of Spartacus' slave revolt and discuss the myth that surrounds the Thracian slave-gladiator, or even a combination of the two.

Whichever interpretation happens to be correct, and to the extent that this is about second-guessing the author's intentions, we will probably never know and it might even not matter that much anyway. What potential readers may be more interested in, however, is whether this combination "works out" well and makes this volume interesting and worth reading. In my view, the answer to both questions is mostly positive, although, at times, I did get the impression that the context provided also served as padding and that Nic Fields may also perhaps have got a bit carried away, including in his section on the posterity of Spartacus.

I also got the impression that, despite providing a lot of useful information, the volume's structure was somewhat artificial and did not always work very well. One example is the introduction which is in fact a short summary of the two slave wars that had taken place in Sicily (but not in mainland Italy) some 30 and 60 years before the revolt headed by Spartacus. Another example is the very first paragraph of this introduction with its "pell-mell" references to Hollywood, to the Spartacus League of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, to Subcommandante Marcos and to "Che" Guevarra. At a minimum, I would have expected to see these mentions appear in the last section of the book, as opposed to upfront in the introduction where they really felt out of place.

Then, to bring in the pieces on the two previous Sicilian revolts, there is a piece titled "the origins of the revolt". The problem here is that neither of these sections really shows what the origins of Spartacus' revolt were. All they contain is a mention about slave revolts being highly unusual and this is something rather odd to say when you describe the two precedents immediately afterwards. Also odd is the fact that these two revolts in Sicily are summarized but there is next to no discussion explaining whether, and to what extent, they were similar or different from the one to come.

The author then comes up with an interesting section which is somewhat mistitled and called "Roman social order". The first page is indeed about the essential importance of order and status to the Romans but almost all of the rest of the section - and the most interesting part of it, is about the Roman slave system, how it was fuelled by piracy, how gladiators were a part of it, and where this practice of using slave-gladiators to fight and kill each other originated from. The closing piece of this section is on "Oscan speakers" and, again, it is strangely misplaced and out of context, especially since it is a very short overview of the history of these Oscan speakers, mostly herdsmen and shepherds, who would form one of the main components of Spartacus and his fellow leaders' forces, alongside the freed slaves. This looked a bit like if the author just could not decide where to put it in the book and finally added it to this section because it had to go somewhere.

Then the reader reverts to the more usual Osprey pattern, with the opposing commanders being presented. The main point about Spartacus is clearly and well made: his consecutive victories over trained Roman forces (and they were certainly not all second-rate militias, even if some of the first ones may have been) was due to mixture of talent and - very probably - previous military experience as an officer, rather than as a simple warrior. We do not know anything more than that for certain and, in particular, nothing about his origins or when and in what circumstances he was enslaved, other than a number of semi-legendary stories which the author mentions and presents as such.

The author, however, does not deal as well with Marcus Licinius Crassus, partly because this character seems to have been rather "unsympathetic", but also, and probably mostly, because he does not seem to have realized to what extent he has been "blackened" by the Roman sources in what looks like a major, and rather successful - "character assassination". He ultimately failed and got himself and his army killed and destroyed by the Parthians as a result. However, the deeper reason for the very negative image of him that you almost always come across in Roman sources is that he used money as a political weapon. Most, if not all, of the senators (including a certain young and very ambitious Gaius Julius Caesar) were deeply indebted to him at one point or another and by threatening to call in his debts or by lending to them; he could make or break careers. As a result, they all feared and hated him and since and this is reflected in the sources which are all senatorial, or written by people who were the clients of powerful senators, or the clients descendants of the descendants of Crassus' rivals. One aspect, in particular, does NOT come out in the book, is that Crassus himself must have been a much better commander that any of the ones that Spartacus had confronted and beaten before.

The presentation of the respective armies is not bad, although unremarkable, with some interesting elements about the herdsmen and shepherds being armed and behaving as brigands, so both accustomed to violence and knowing already how to fight. The piece on the Roman army is a rather generic one which is largely "inspired" from some of the author's other publications and, ultimately, seems to be derived from Lawrence Keppie ("The making of the Roman army: from Republic to Empire").

The section on opposing plans is also a bit of a puzzle. The author, very correctly, does state that Spartacus was neither an idealist nor a "revolutionary" who intended to abolish slavery or had any "bright vision of a new world". Apart from this, however, we simply do not know much about his plans because nobody from his side survived to tell the tale and the somewhat erratic movements of his army during the whole length of the revolt make his intentions somewhat unclear. It seems likely that his plans changed several times under the force of circumstances but it is rather unclear as to why, after having marched until Mutina in the north, where he fought and defeated a Roman army, he then decided to march back to Bruttium where Crassus essentially trapped him.

The Roman plans are easier to reconstruct. As Nic Fields does show rather well, the Romans seem to have begun by constantly underestimating both the scale of the revolt and the abilities of their adversaries, perhaps even more than they had for the two previous revolts in Sicily. Then there seems to have been some kind of panic as they realized that there was a "clear and present danger" marching on Rome. As a result, Crassus was essentially given "carte blanche" to deal with the insurrection but even this does not seem to have been "easy". By then, after the defeat of both praetorian and consular armies, Crassus could put together a huge force with which to crush the slave army. We have no idea regarding the numbers of either side during the last battle, although the size of the slave army is likely to have been reduced through campaigning and desertions and was most probably outnumbered. Despite this, the battle seems to have been hard fought. Towards the end of it, Spartacus, seeing that he had lost and trying to cut his way through to Crassus and kill him in a last desperate gamble (a bit like Richard III would try - and also fail - to do at Bosworth Field over 1500 years later). This episode is rather superbly illustrated by Steve Noon.

The aftermath, and Crassus' treatment of the survivors - some 6000 were survived - is unfortunately not entirely explained. The reasons for the mass crucifixions and the display all along the Via Appia are clearly presented. Crassus wanted to show who had really won the war and made a point in a rather terrible way. What is not explained, however, is the existence of so many prisoners in the first place. Given the atrocities that took place during the slave war, one could have expected that there would be no prisoners at all. Slaves, however, were very valuable (as shown elsewhere in the book), so it seems that towards the end of the last battle Crassus might have given the order to spare those who surrendered, once Spartacus had been killed. Pompey's attempt to "steal his thunder" made him reconsider...

At the end of this long review, I cannot help having mixed feelings about this Campaign title. Since it is neither really entirely "good" nor "bad", but did not really meet my expectations, I will rate it three stars.
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Good Beginning 13 novembre 2010
Par Roberta - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is a good beginning point for the study of Spartacus and the Gladiator Revolt against Rome. It gives the basics of what happened, how, and why and also includes a very good bibliography for further research if the reader is so inclined. I would highly recommend this book even for those who already have knowledge because of its bare bones approach to this historical incident.
Five Stars 19 mars 2015
Par Robert L. Caldwell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
No issues at all.
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