|Today is the one hundred and ninety-ninth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Obviously next year will see bigger commemorations of the event, and for those who are interested it is well worth keeping an eye on the website of Waterloo 200|
Just as last Autumn there was a deluge of books about 1914 and the start of the Great War, the end of this year will see a flurry of books about 1815 and the Hundred Days. I suspect that they will be a very mixed bag, some good, some not really saying anything new, but at least telling the story well, and a few indifferent. One that will be well worth getting is Gareth Glover, Waterloo: Myth and Reality published by Pen&Sword on the 30th September 2014. I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this, and there is a huge amount that is new and often surprising, which is as you would expect from the editor of the Waterloo Archive series, which currently runs to five volumes.
More recently I have read and enjoyed a couple of books focusing on the Battle of Quatre Bras, fought on the 16th June. The first was Mike Robinson, The Battle of Quatre Bras 1815(Pen&Sword 2009), which covers the whole action from the Allied perspective, and then Erwin Muilwijk, Quatre Bras, Perponcher's gamble (Sovereign House Books, 2013) which deals specifically with the Netherlanders. I am looking forward to Andrew Field, Prelude to Waterloo. Quatre Bras, the French perspective (Pen&Sword, 30th July 2014), which should complement these nicely. The same author's Waterloo - the French perspective was very good.
|Hadrian's Wall on-line course|
|Here is a link to a free on-line course looking at the archaeology of Hadrian's Wall. It is being run by Newcastle University and led by my old friend Prof. Ian Haynes - you may remember that I posted a blog entry about his book The Blood of the Provinces a while ago. It s set to begin in September and run for six weeks. Ought to be good fun, especially for those of you who have not had a chance to visit the Wall or want to reminded of past trips. Hadrian's Wall course|
|There should be some new entries on the appearances page in the next day or so with four lectures at various festivals and the annual birthday lecture at Caerleon. |
|Antony and Cleopatra at the Globe|
|Last month I gave a talk to the cast of a new production of Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare's Globe, the marvellous reconstruction of the Elizabethan wooden theatre on the south bank of the Thames. The session was to provide them with more sense of the historical background to the story - all the more useful because Shakespeare followed Plutarch's account with considerable faith. I have done a couple of similar talks in the past, and it is always interesting to come at the history from a different angle, and think about what would be useful for an actor or actress trying to bring his or her character to life on stage. I think it should be a very good production, so well worth making an effort to see it if you can. For more details and tickets follow this link - |
the Globe's website
|Blood of the provinces - an excellent new book on the Roman auxilia|
For those with a serious interest in the Roman army and more widely in the impact of the Roman empire on provincial populations, I have no hesitation in recommending a book that came out late last year - Ian Haynes, The Blood of the Provinces. The Roman Auxilia and the Making of Provincial Society from Augustus to the Severans published by the OUP. As the title says, its focus is on the non citizen soldiers of the early imperial army, primarily the auxiliaries of the cavalry alae and infantry cohorts. It is not simply a study of the history and organisation of these units, but more about what the maintenance of perhaps two hundred thousand non citizen soldiers actually meant. Along the way, it examines the experience of military service, looking at everything from language to the environment, routine, ritual and religion of army bases and the wider military community.
Ian and I are very old friends, and started out doctoral research on the same day a couple of decades ago. At the time, we were the only two graduate students at Oxford working on the Roman army of the principate, and it was a great asset to have someone else with whom to bounce around ideas. Ian's book began as his D.Phil. thesis, but over the subsequent twenty-odd years has developed and grown into something far broader. It has been a great pleasure to discuss many of the ideas many times. Graduate students readily feel certain about things, but as your knowledge increases everyone tends to get less confident. Ian's ideas have been shaped by extensive reading and in particular a wide experience of archaeological excavation and investigation in a number of countries. This is an academic book, and so the more knowledge a reader has then the more he or she will be able to engage with the ideas and profit from the book. I won't try to summarise the arguments, because they cover so many different themes. Not all the questions can be answered, but simply asking them and pushing the evidence as far as it will go is highly stimulating. All in all not the first book to read on the Roman army, but for those with a fair existing knowledge I think it will prove to be one of the most rewarding.
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