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Aetius : Attila's nemesis by Ian Hughes

Aetius : Attila's nemesis (2012)

by Ian Hughes

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152647,891 (4.33)7
  1. 10
    Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire (Classical) by John Michael O'Flynn (Ammianus)
    Ammianus: O'Flynn covers the warlord period of the Later Roman Empire briefly; Stilicho, Aetius, Ricimer, Odoacer and others. Hard to find a copy these days ...oop.
  2. 00
    Stilicho : the Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes (Ammianus)
    Ammianus: If you purchased AETIUS, you either own, or need to buy, Stilicho, covering the years in which Stilicho and Alaric conducted a pas de deux similar to Aetius & Attila while the Roman EMpire in the West slowly collapses.

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Academic, but still quite readable biography of Aetius, the last great (Western) Roman general, who defeated Attila the Hun. The sources for this time period are sparse and suspect. Hughes leads us through the fog, pointing out the shadows that may look like something they are not. He is careful to state when he is speculating and why he comes to the conclusions he does. In the end, we know little about Aetius the man, but can extrapolate from his actions. This is a useful work for anyone interested in "The Fall" of the western Roman Empire particularly when paired with Hughes' "Stilicho: The Vandal Who Saved Rome."

My only complaint: a sprinkling of copy edit (factcheck?) problems where a name was wrong. For example, the author would be speaking of Placidia and suddenly it was changed to Pulcheria or Pelagia. Anyone knowing the time period, knew this was an error, but others might be confused. This book was supposed to come out in April and arrived in July. Possibly some delays in production led to shortcuts, but that's just speculation! ( )
  MarysGirl | Sep 28, 2012 |
Hats off to Ian hughes and his publisher, Pen & Sword Books, for gradually filling some gaps in our Late Roman libraries. Thanks to them we finally have English-Language biographies of Aetius and Stilicho as well as a new work on Belisarius. Hughes appears to be working on yet another volume covering Valentinian and Valens.

I first read of Aetius and the battle of Chalons as a child and my interest in the topic never waned.
As multiple works on Attila appeared over the years I always wondered why no one wrote an Aetius biography (or one on Stilicho for that matter). Novels concerning Aetius appeared (of very varying quality). Thankfully, the Later Roman Empire has recently gained more adherents in the historical community (and among war gamers) and the period has received more scholarly attention.

The author begins with an illuminating discussion of the problematic original sources, and their varying modern interpretations - we're truly groping in the dark at times. Hughes supports the narrative with many good maps to include a series of conjectural deployments for the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains; a very solid bibliography, a useful glossary of personalities as well as a chronology which materially assists in following the many and varied military campaigns of Aetius and his lieutenants. Hughes also has chapters examining both the Late Roman Army and its barbarian opponents ( the Huns asymmetrical composite bow and Phil Barker's plumbate are explained).

Hughes interweaves the rise and fall of Aetius, his time as a hostage with both Goths and Huns, his
many campaigns, his stormy relationship with Galla Placidia and the impact of the Huns on Europe.
Students of the Patrician Roman Army will find a wealth of useful material as Hughes examines operations and the personalities of various commanders. The author covers a lot of murky ground in a short space and ends with an analytic conclusion of Aetius.

I have minor nitpicks but no show-stoppers; I would like to see crisper editing from Pen&Sword for instance, but this book is well worth the price. It's a must buy for students of the period. Many will find the chronology and bibliography of great use. I was extremely glad to get both [Stilicho] and [Aetius] on my bookshelves!

I'm including a link to my Late Roman section:
http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Ammianus&tag=Late%2BRoman ( )
1 vote Ammianus | May 27, 2012 |
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