Hannibal. A name that inspired fear long before Thomas Harris wrote a book, Anthony Hopkins immortalized a character, or Mads Mikkelsen added a fresh face and a new spin. No, this isn’t Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector. The Hannibal in question is Hannibal Barca, the great general of ancient Carthage. Perhaps best known for his “Elephant Riders,” leading an army over the Alps to wage war against mighty Rome in Italy. In his 2017 biography, Patrick N. Hunt does more than introduce one of history’s great military minds. He introduces the times, places, battles, and opposition surrounding Hannibal. From birth and rise to power to eventual fall in defeat and later death, Hunt documents Hannibal’s influence on not only his great enemy Rome, but the world, and does an outstanding job.
An aspect of Hunt’s writing took me aback at first, but the more I read, the more I appreciated what he wrote. The period of the book is the mid-200s B.C.E. to the 180s B.C.E. Most authors write like they know exactly what happened, when it happened, and how it happened. They act like they were there in the midst of the action. Not once does Hunt take that approach. He admits when he doesn’t know for sure, and what the consensus agrees is probable. It’s not that he doesn’t know, but nobody knows. A refreshing approach, and once I got used to it, I became more trusting of his information and enjoyed what I read.
Hannibal reads like one of those “classic” History Channel documentaries I love. Non-fiction books have a tendency to be dry. I didn’t find many, if any, dry spots. The writing stays conversational in tone, and you can almost see the action unfold when the individual battles and maneuvers appear. Hunt describes the military aspects so everyone can understand and follow along with any prior knowledge.
Non-fiction books are always hard to recommend. There’s so many routes to travel with specifics. I’d recommend Hannibal to anyone interested in the man, the myth, the legend known as Hannibal Barca. Ancient Rome. Ancient warfare. Carthage. There’s so much within these pages. If you’re interested in any of these specific routes, or maybe even one I forgot to mention, the official release date as of this writing is July 11, 2017.
*I received this as an uncorrected eBook galley from netgalley.com in exchange for this honest review.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2017