by Lindsay Powell
Barnsley, So. Yorks.: Pen & Sword/Philadelphia: Casemate, 2011. Pp. xxxvi, 234.
Illus., maps, appends, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 184884333X
Surprisingly, although he had a very distinguished military career, and was the younger brother of the later Emperor Tiberius, as well as the father of the famous general Germanicus and of the Emperor Claudius, Eager for Glory is the first ever life of Nero Claudius Drusus (38-9 BC).
Drusus had, by his untimely death at 29 proven himself a notable strategist, commander, and administrator, who, in cooperation with Tiberius added Raetia, Noricum, and Vindelicia (roughly modern Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria, and Slovenia) to the Empire, and who then, more or less on his own, very nearly subdued Germania to the Elbe in four brilliant campaigns (12-9 BC). Admitting the sparsity of evidence directly related to Drusus, Powell, a frequent contributor to military history journals and a veteran member of the “Ermine Street Guard”, one of the most notable Roman Army re-enacting groups, has nonetheless done an excellent job. He has has gathered all the literary evidence and carefully sorted through the archaeological record, which has in recent years piled up wonderfully, and sifted through appropriate evidence of what is known about other generals and campaigns from the period, and then added a useful dose of his own experience as a Roman re-enactor.
The result is a surprisingly detailed, readable look at a long-forgotten great captain, with some thoughtful insights into the Roman concept of strategy, worth reading not only for those interesting in Roman history but also for students of military leadership and command.