The War with Hannibal
This is only one of the many volumes within the author's huge History of Rome. Pages filled with lots of details and accounts of almost day by day life in the Roman Empire around 200 BC. It's about 700 pages long this volume, in Penguin, not at all pithy, mind you. Every important battle or event seems to be introduced with parragraphs on the different augurs, premonitions and superstitions the Romans had before a big event took place. Livy wastes a little too much ink on those details. What is also a little tedious is the constant mentioning of names of personages who occupied different offices during the times of the events in question. He could have done without that too. But take this out, and skip that other thing, the book is an invaluable testimony of the times, a great canvas of the Roman Empire at its greatest moment: the duel with Carthage; Scipio vs Hannibal.
It's like reading a daily of more than 2000 years ago, only better. You get to see what was going on in the Italian peninsula, Hispania, north of Africa. The movement of troops here and there, the decision making in the Roman Senate and accross the Empire, the little barbarian rulers trying to maintain their particular fiefdoms while deciding which neighbor they should pay tribute to: Rome eventually being the better choice. I was delighted to see the Iberian leaders portrayed with a human face, balancing the pros and cons of which empire to follow, Rome or Carthage. It was like geopolitcs for dummies, only 200 BC.
Facts, action, facts, action. May be too much, with no time to pause and meditate. To be read in small takes, digesting it well, otherwise... If you don't get discouraged with so much information, irrelevant to us much of it, it will get to be a fully satisfying experience at the end. You'll think you've been in all those places, you sweat, and even hurt yourself while running away from one of those African elephants. Oh, my!