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Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome

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  • Posted June 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Historical Fiction at its best.

    When a person writes a book on history they need to stick to the facts. It is that plain and simple. Simply stated, there is TOO MUCH IMAGINATION in this book for me to consider it history. Caesar's Legion is a well written military story about the tenth legion, but a story. I would recommend this book for anyone willing to learn the bare facts, and I mean the bare facts. I could have looked all of this information up online and written a very simliar book of my own. I hold authors of history books to a higher standard because they need to write about what actually happened, not conjecture on their own part. Its obvious after reading this book that the author has done nothing more than copy and paste from the ancient sources. I on the other hand love a good fight and a good story so I'm going to recommend this book to the amatuer military historian [Everyone else should rent or borrow the book if they intend to read it] and move on.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2002

    Disappointing--yet with so much potential . . .

    This is a one book I really wanted to enjoy. It has all the hallmarks of a classic--a history with Caesar at its center, a unit history from ancient Rome, a fine production job, and pre- and post-production hype. Unfortunately, Dando-Collins' effort, while worthwhile in many respects, falls far short of its stated goals.<p> First, 'Caesar's Legion' offers good information on the X legion and others not found elsewhere (yes, there are some mistakes, but everyone makes a few forgivable errors), and its history after the death of Caesar, if thinly presented, is worthwhile. The book includes above-average theater maps (tactical maps would have been very helpful), and the appendices on the naming and numbering of the legions, reenlistment issues, and so forth were very interesting. The discussion of the primary sources was also enlightening.<p> However, the hype and book title do not mesh with the final written product. The publisher claims this book is both an 'unprecedented regimental history' and an 'extraordinarily detailed history.' It is neither, although it attempts to be both--and therein lies its inherent problem and my sincere disappointment. 'Caesar's Legion' is at best a loosely presented general history (with breathtaking gaps in coverage and analysis, and enough leaps of faith to qualify as good historical fiction) of Caesar's rise to power and campaigns. It masquerades as a regimental history only because the author weaves in a semi-regular sprinkling of information about the X Legion (and many others, for that matter). Hence the problem: there is not enough scholarly information (and understandably so) on a single legion to boldly shout from the rooftops that this book is a unit history. And, the overall coverage (strategic and tactical) of Caesar's campaigns is weak and often shallowly written so that it pales in comparison with many other works on Caesar that have recently hit the shelves (Ramon Jimenez's outstanding pair of studies, 'Caesar Against the Celts,' and 'Caesar Against Rome,' both of which are head and shoulders better than 'Caesar's Legion,' leap immediately to mind).<p> The second eyebrow-raiser centers on the author's inability to apply critical reason and analysis to Caesar's (and other modern historians') accounts of his campaigns--especially in Gaul. Numbers and losses are routinely (though not always) accepted at face value. It is painfully obvious that Dando-Collins has never read (or understood) Hans Delbrück, whose first volume in his four-volume epic is still the definitive work on Caesar's campaigns. Delbruck is not even mentioned in the bibliography (nor is Jimenez and many other scholarly works, for that matter). That should have convinced me to place this title back on the shelf.<p> Lastly, the writing ebbs and flows in quality. In places the storytelling is excellent--well paced, well-written, and very interesting. Then, without warning it sags, slows, and swamps itself with flip-flops between the active and passive voice, poorly constructed sentences, and other similar problems. The most irksome technique employed by the author is his habitual use of the word 'would,' followed by a story line that accepts the author's premise. For example, Caesar 'would have had intelligence that Pompey was keeping large amounts of stores . . .' (p. 96). Why not just write 'Caesar had intelligence that Pompey . . ' I gave up after counting about three dozen similar examples. The manuscript's editor was AWOL on this and similar issues. Similarly, although Dando-Collins explains in the introduction why he decided to use modern ranks, it simply does not work and interrupts the flow of his narrative.<p> I know how difficult it is to write a book (I have written, edited, or ghost-written more than a dozen), and so I rarely comment on another's labors. 'Caesar's Legion,' however, could have been so much better than it is (the author spent three decades researching Roman legions) that I fe

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    A reviewer

    I found the first part of the book well written and seemingly, very informative, but when I read the part about the whole of the Grecian campaign in the civil wars, I was so disappointed I became depressed. I would recommend that others first read Appian 'The Civil Wars', Plutarch 'the Fall of the Roman Republic', Theodore Dodge 'Caesar', and Adrian Goldsworthy 'Caesar'. I would also recommend the website Wikipedia for going to pages like 'Roman Provinces in Greece' and others. With just a little effort, one can follow Caesar's route from his landing at Palaste and the overland march he made to Oricum 'Orikum' and thence to Apollonia. I would remind readers that Caesar had set up his forces to move overland behind Pompey by the Southern extension of the Via Egnatia while Pompay had set up astraddle of the Northern extension. If one reads a combination of the reliable sources, one can go to the Wikipedia website and then to their website for Palaste, Orikum, Appolonia 'present day Vlore' or Vlora' and one can click on different photo points that will actually let one see the coastline Caesar was facing and how difficult it would be to land. One can also see the Ceraunian Promontory which sat at the entrance to the bay at Apollonia. One can go to the website for Appolonia and see just how important Apollonia was as a harbor prior to it silting up in approximately 300 AD. I think the author's handing of all the available information was absolutely pathetic and the first part of the book makes it clear that he is capable of a much better effort.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2008

    The best Non-Fiction Story I Have Ever Read

    Caesar's Legion is the most entertaining and interesting book i have ever read. Dando Collins is the best writer of roman history i have read, he makes the reading fun and makes it read like a story book. Not the fact filled book it really is. Also the facts in this book are not fictional as other reviews have falsly stated.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2005

    Flesh and blood history

    Goes beyond dry history books about generals and strategy to also tell how the common soldiers who made Rome great lived and died. Compellingly told, as if by an on the spot reporter. Based on classical texts, yet easy for today's reader to understand. Makes history exciting. Also highly recommended, Nero's Killing Machine, about the 14th Legion, by the same author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2003

    Many Fabrications, Badly Researched

    This is the second review I have done of this book. After studying all the primary sources he lists I find that this author has made up facts to fill in the gaps of the history of the Tenth Legions (there were more than one). For example he claims a Spanish origin for the Tenth and other legions. There is no primary source that states this, nor is there archaeological or epigraphic evidence that supports this claim. He claims that Caesar raised this and other legions in Spain and that these units fought for Caesar there prior to the Gallic Wars, again no evidence, no support for this claim. He claims that the Tenth Legion Fretensis is the same as Caesar's Tenth (where more scholarly works like Keppies' The Making of the Roman Army point out it is more likely the Tenth Legion Equestris that is the direct lineage unit), again no evidence or support, the author merely states it and assumes the reader will accept and believe it. I cannot recommend this book and agree with the reviewer that stated this author would be better at writing historical fiction, making up facts to fit a framework of actual history. He has made a good start with this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    Great book by collins

    Sometimes the title of the book says one thing then it rabbles about the things surounding the topic, not this.

    Ive read, Caeser, Alaxander the great, Hannibal, Scipio, Augustasand all of these generals had a special unti of whom they wee very close to but anyone with enough interest in Caesers exploits, has no doubt heard of the tenth.

    I learned in this book the tenth legion was the one Caeser recruited from spain. When Caeser would leave his luetenants in his camp, the tenth would come with him, He promise t and did make them his personal bodygaurd, much like alaxanders companion calvalryof whom were his frieinds. One time when the army was about to desert due to the number of germans , he said, fine all you cowards stay behind, ill take the tenth legion alone, they have faith in me, and the tenth roared in support, then the rest of the legionares fallowed.

    ought some say caeser took out 100 men from each legion totaling around 600-800 or it also has been said hat his much depleted and low in number tenth legion, was placed with their throwing spears, no more than a thousand footment, to hold off pompeys 8000 calvalry at pharsalus, this calvalry unit was pompeys only chance of succuss, and it was a good plan, but by some miracle he routed the calvalry, and the battle was won.

    Caeser was also cought marching along the desert after his time in Alexandria when his ex- lagate, who defected to pompey out of his jealosy for ceaser, arranged thousands of numedian calvalry, ceaser had only infantry, and when Labineious began to taunst his old omrads of the tenth, speaking to each by name as he circled around them with his numedians, one rose up and threw a spear into his horse, which fell on his leg, the numedians only being able to get paid if labinius lived (they were mercenaries), scooped him up and ran away, it is said that caeser surely would have died in that engagement.

    All this and more on ceasers tenth legion, in this well written book.

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  • Posted February 28, 2013

    If you want to know what it must have felt like to serve Caesar

    If you want to know what it must have felt like to serve Caesar in one of his Legions, this is the book for you. From the very beginning you have a sense of how different their lives were than ours today. The hardship, the brute labor, the loyalty, the heroics, it is all amazing. While some criticize the author, I applaud him on his careful research. Rather than take the word of those favoring or opposing Caesar, he blends the two to provide a believable and realistic picture of one of the greatest leaders in history. I listened to the audio version of this book and was spellbound. I did not want to stop. It is gripping, compelling, insightful, and transports you to another place and time, not a fictitious one, but one in which men actually lived and died on the field of honor. This is one of the books I have read that is really life-changing. I have a greater appreciation for those who have come before and a realization as to how soft we have become. Eye-opening, exciting, informative, and it will change your thinking.

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    Posted July 17, 2009

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    Posted January 5, 2009

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    Posted November 9, 2009

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    Posted February 25, 2009

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