Themes and content

If you know AHM’s sister (or is that brother?) magazines Ancient Warfare and Medieval Warfare, you’ll be familiar with our themed setup. A large part of every issue is dedicated to a topic, which is then discussed through a variety of articles. The standard format is an introduction that should bring even a reader wholly ignorant of the particular subject up to speed, a source article about a text or archaeological find that underpins the historical narrative, and three or four longer articles that examine details and different angles of the theme. Taken together, and considered within the constraints of a magazine, this should provide the reader not only with a basic understanding of the main protagonists, issues, and problems, but should also allow for a detailed look at one or two aspects of the theme. In AW and MW, that’s often a battle, a soldier or a general. Apart from that, a theme should also be a pleasure to read: well-written articles from different authors in a mix of shorter and longer contributions.

That, at least, is the ideal. Obviously, and unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are almost always legitimate reasons for this outcome, and one of the biggest ones can best be described as ‘having bitten off more than you can chew’. We enjoy fostering a good relationship with our readers, but one of the possible downsides is that the readership proposes and then votes for – we’ve gone through that process since Volume III of Ancient Warfare if I recall correctly – a topic that is really too big to treat in a single issue. If the editor gets carried along and co-opts that topic for a theme, he may end up with that sinking feeling, but knowing he’s committed, he bravely soldiers on and makes the best of it. It is to Josho and Dirk’s credit if they manage to pull off an interesting theme nonetheless, even if it doesn’t exactly fit the pattern laid out above.

We have, of course, already spent quite some time deliberating and philosophizing (this is editorial code for: endless discussions in a bar with a beer) about all possible topics and angles in AHM. One threat we noted is the one described above. AW and MW have one advantage: every article has to be related to warfare. For AHM, the only real limit is chronological, and even the ‘terminus ante quem’ (ie: the date when the ancient world is considered ‘over’) is somewhat arbitrary. An occasional article on warfare is not even considered beyond our remit, as warfare was very much part of life in the ancient world. In other words, we have a much larger playground to run amok in. And that easily leads to ‘big chunks’…

The other disadvantage to such a large potential range of topics is that readers, who may only be interested in some ancient civilizations, periods or aspects thereof, may not find anything of interest in a strongly themed magazine. That would be fair enough, of course, we too have our own favorites, but we’d like to prevent boredom in the magazine if we can help it!

So, what have we decided upon? Well, we will still have themes in AHM, but they’ll probably be a bit different. We’ll want them to be very focused, and if they’re big, we’ll approach them from unexpected angles to prevent clichés. Themes will also take a bit less space in the magazine than what you’re used to. We still want to do them justice, but we also always want to make sure there’s something for everyone. AHM will certainly be varied in its topics, its angles, authors, and articles. We plan to keep it fresh and interesting for as long as you’re willing to keep reading!

Now do you have any suggestions for themes you’d like to see? Post them below!

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