Book Review: Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War


by Gregory Day

London/New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2006. Pp. xviii, 253. Illus., map, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $37.95 paper. ISBN:0415327431

Cannae is an attempt to apply the methodology developed by John Keegan in his ground-breaking The Face of Battle (1976), to the most notable battle of the Second Punic War (216 BC).

In this work, Gregory Day, of the University of Manchester , analyzes available evidence derived from documents, geographic studies, and archaeological evacuations, as well as experimental archaeology and re-enacting, to try to discern what actually went on during a battle in the Hannibalic War. He looks at the many different levels of battle, from strategic and operational considerations, to tactical developments, but is focused on the experience of the common soldier in the ranks. 

It must be said that Day is quite successful. 

Opening with a chapter setting the political and strategic framework, Day then examines the two armies in turn, providing a comprehensive analysis of their capabilities and limitations. This is followed by a discussion of the exercise of command in the period, and then brings everything together to look at how the battle unfolded from the perspective of the common soldier. 

Cannae , the most detailed analysis of the battle that this writer has seen, will be of immense interest to any student of warfare in Classical Antiquity.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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