Books, books, books

Nearly every week the postman brings some books to the Karwansaray offices. Usually, they are sent to us by other publishers, in the hope that we’ll review their books in Ancient Warfare, Medieval Warfare, or Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy. For them, Ancient History Magazine is still new (shame on them!), but several of those books are fit to be reviewed.

As it happens, four of these books deal with the demise of the Roman Empire. The first one is a biography: John S. McHugh’s book on The Emperor Commodus. God and Gladiator. Then there are two books about the rise of Christianity: Mark Edwards’ Religions of the Constantinian Empire and Robin Lane Fox’ recent biography of Augustine. Ian Hughes’ Patricians and Emperors. The Last Rulers of the Western Roman Empire is the fourth part of this quartet.

Another book deals with Hellenistic political history. If you like that subject, we can send you a copy of John Grainger’s The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III (223-187 BC). I expect that in the not too distant future, we’ll also have reviews of books that are more art historical, philological, or archaeological in nature, and I am optimistic that we will start to review books about the ancient Near East quite soon.

There’s another way you can write a review. I am quite sure that everyone is familiar with this experience: you have to know something about a subject outside your direct sphere of interest, and you don’t know where to start. For example, you’re interested in the archaeology of the Near East, and in a museum you come upon a lovely Byzantine mosaic. You’d like to know more, but where do you begin? Another example: you’re a classicist and you suddenly realize that Ovid is using an oriental model for one of his stories – but what are the books to read?

What you need is a review of not just one book, but of a set of books. A guide to the good, the bad, and the essential. In the second issue of Ancient History Magazine, classicist Piet Gerbrandy will offer precisely this: a review of a book about Late Antiquity that is also an introduction to a subject in general. If you think you are qualified to write an overview like this, feel free to contact us.

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