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The Ghosts of Cannae: Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic    by Robert L. O'Connell order for
Ghosts of Cannae
by Robert L. O'Connell
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Ancient history enthusiasts will want to read this account of what happened two thousand years ago in the decisive battle that gave Carthage a victory over Rome in 216 B.C..

Besides altering the balance of power in this part of the world, the bloody battle has obsessed military minds and countless armies over the centuries have tried to imitate Hannibal's success.

'The lethal brilliance of Cannae was of such an order that the encounter became one of the most studied and emulated battles, casting a long shadow over military history and the profession of arms even to this day,' writes O'Connell.

Military historian Robert O'Connell not only offers a stirring account of this apocalyptic battle of the Second Punic War, the strategic thinking of the combatants and the misery of battle in multifaceted theatres, but he also explains why this event still matters today.

'At no point would Cannae disappear from military history, but its memory, especially its modern memory, has taken on a momentum of its own, accelerating the battle to the level of legend, and glorifying Hannibal as its mastermind ... Those who proclaim Cannae the most studied and emulated of combat encounters might have done better to consider that at least some of this energy may have been devoted to avoiding another Cannae, not repeating it,' notes the author in the book's epilogue.

He makes an excellent point here. All too often, when it comes to studying the past, we get the wrong end of the stick!

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