The ghosts of Cannae : Hannibal and the darkest hour of the Roman republic Robert L. O’Connell New York : Random House, c 2010 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xvii, 310 p. : maps, plans ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
The Battle of Canae (216 BC is regarded as one of the greatest battles of military history. Hannibal’s stratagem has become a model of the perfectly fought battle and is studied in detail at military academies around the world. At Cannae the Romans confronted Hannibal with an army of 80,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry. Hannibal faced them with 40,000 foot and 10,000 horse. The engagement that followed was a masterpiece of battlefield control. By the end of the conflict the Romans had lost 47,500 infantry and 2,700 cavalry killed and a further 19,300 captured.
For millennia, Carthage’s triumph over Rome at Cannae in 216 B.C. has inspired reverence and awe. No general since has matched Hannibal’s most unexpected, innovative, and brutal military victory. O’Connell describes Hannibal’s strategy of blinding his opponents with sun and dust, enveloping them in a deadly embrace and sealing their escape, before launching a massive knife fight that would kill 48,000 men in close contact.
O’Connell brilliantly conveys how Rome amassed a giant army to punish Carthage’s masterful commander, how Hannibal outwitted enemies that outnumbered him, and how this disastrous pivot point in Rome’s history ultimately led to the republic’s resurgence and the creation of its empire.
Piecing together decayed shreds of ancient reportage, the author paints powerful portraits of the leading players, from Hannibal — resolutely sane and uncannily strategic — to Piecing together decayed shreds of ancient reportage, the author paints powerful portraits of the leading players: Hannibal, resolutely sane and uncannily strategic; Varro, Rome’s co-consul who was so scapegoated for the loss; and Scipio Africanus, the surviving (and self-promoting) Roman military tribune who would one day pay back Hannibal at Zama in North Africa. Finally, O’Connell reveals how Cannae’s legend has inspired and haunted military leaders ever since, and the lessons it teaches for our own wars.