Partisan Revisionism

Richard Miles presents a new history of Carthage, which aims to show the land of Dido and Hannibal in a new light and rehabilitate the Punic state from what the author considers neglect and prejudice on the part of later historians.  Miles especially succeeds in his descriptions and analysis of the military history of Carthage by admirably making the various convoluted aspects of the three Punic Wars easy to follow.

Overall, Punic history can be confusing for the nonspecialist.  For example, political and military leaders of the Carthaginians were all named Hanno, Hamilcar, Hasdrubal, or Hannibal.  In the book, there are ten Hannos, eight Hamilcars, nine Hasdrubals, and even the great Hannibal Barca shared the crowded stage of Punic history with five other Hannibals.

The best part of Miles’ book is his description of the rise and military campaigns of Hannibal Barca during the Second Punic War and the great commander’s later fall from favor into exile and death.  Hannibal was influenced by the martial jingoism of his clan.  His father was the general Hamilcar Barca.  Hamilcar was badly defeated by the Romans in Sicily during the First Punic War but saved Carthage from destruction by rebellious mercenary soldiers in that war’s aftermath by savagely suppressing the uprising.  Hamilcar Barca and his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Fair then conquered and consolidated southern Spain for Carthage, using...

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