Not a long time ago I looked at promising book of ‘The Tyrants of Syracuse‘. and now it is time to look at the second Volume, ‘War in Ancient Sicily 367-211BC’ by Jeff Champion (ISBN# 9781844682966).
Second volume continues quite fluently where first took off and starts from the reign of the son of Dionysious. He was, perhaps the last meaningful tyrant before Syracusans became spectators of the wrestling giants in Sicily. Once Epirotes were invited in to counter renewed Carthaginian threat, and Syracusan power started to decay beyond recovery, it became nothing but pawn in great political struggle that was to alter the mediterranean map forever. Luckily enough, author has recognized the importance of the surrounding world, and the book provides wealth of information, not only of Syracuse – which does fall somewhat into sidelines, but rather the other three. Carthage, Epirotes and the one who finally struck the deciding blow – Rome.
I have to admit that I do like the way author goes through the history of Syracuse in the two volumes, As the first one, the events in Syracuse, and reigns of Tyrants are firmly anchored to the surrounding events, and the books from nice arc of history from the foundation of the city to the time it ceased from being independent entity. Compact and well told story makes the book pleasure to read – even when reader is not professional historian.
Book is not entirely without faults, however. Main fault is that author recycles his previous work – which is annoying because it is quite likely that you read the books in row. That said, it is not something that would stop me from reading the book, but a bit of annoyance. Luckily enough, the recycled passages only apply to the beginning and are less of a problem when the things pick up pace.
If you are interested in the history of Syracuse, Carthage or Epirotes, then these two volumes are something that you might really enjoy. For warning perspective, the books bring out interesting match ups that could be replicated and perhaps will get there at later time.