Monday, April 21, 2008

HANNIBAL by Harold Lamb

Hannibal is Harold Lamb's biography of the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca. Hannibal is an enigmatic figure. Most of what we know about him was recorded by his enemies, and Lamb has taken innumerable accounts into consideration.

This book chiefly covers the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.). Hannibal crossed the Alps, a feat which became legend, and ran amok in Italy years, defeating all comers (and many Roman commanders tried and failed to defeat him). Lamb gives great attention to Hannibal versus Scipio Africanus. This book also covers Hannibal's return to Carthage and later exile to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Lamb's writing is dry at times, and Hannibal can seem like a textbook. But Lamb does a fantastic job of providing historical context, and he is excellent in his description of battles and strategy. He also does a solid job of showing the personalities of Hannibal and the various Roman commanders.

On the whole this is an excellent biography of Hannibal, an excellent history in general, and a good treatise on warfare of the day.