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Publisher's Summary

The Roman army was the greatest fighting machine the ancient world produced. The Roman Empire depended on soldiers not just to win its wars, defend its frontiers and control the seas but also to act as the engine of the state. Roman legionaries and auxiliaries came from across the Roman world and beyond. They served as tax collectors, policemen, surveyors, as civil engineers and, if they survived, in retirement, as civic worthies, craftsmen and politicians. Some even rose to become emperors.

Gladius takes the listener right into the heart of what it meant to be a part of the Roman army through the words of Roman historians and those of the men themselves through their religious dedications, tombstones and even private letters and graffiti. Guy de la Bédoyère throws open a window on how the men, their wives and their children lived, from bleak frontier garrisons to guarding the emperor in Rome, enjoying a ringside seat to history fighting the emperors' wars, mutinying over pay, marching in triumphs, throwing their weight around in city streets and enjoying esteem in honourable retirement.

©2020 Guy de la Bédoyère (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

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  • richard rochester
  • 10-01-2021

A good book ruined by incorrect pronunciation

Why, why, why don't producers and actors ask or research when they don't know how to correctly pronounce a word? Why doesn't the author get the opportunity to check an audiobook before it is released? There have been a number of perfectly good historical books that have been ruined by lazy production and sheer ignorance on the behalf of the actor reading the book but this is one of the worst I have come across to date. Thus Tacitus is pronounced with a hard c to become 'Ta-ck-itus', Dacia is pronounced and 'Da-ck-ia' and Legio (Legion) is pronounced with a hard 'g' as in the toy company 'Lego' etc... The most cursory research such as typing 'Tacitus' into Google brings up a Wiki entry with the correct pronunciation so there is simply no excuse. It completely ruined the listening experience for me!

11 people found this helpful

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  • SEAN HOLDEN
  • 26-03-2021

Doesn't really bring out the man behind the shield

The book proved disappointing because it did not for me really get in to the spirit of the men behind the shields in what many say was, in the 1st Centuries BCE and CE, the best army in history. I did not feel I marched with them. The research was detailed in identifying many men in the army but it did not really develop the humanity out of the cryptic stories on the tombstones. It became rather too much a recitation of grave markings. How could it be otherwise when that is the main evidence? A fair question but it is for the author to answer, not me. A dash of imagined narrative, a creation of possibilities from the stony evidence, much as some have done with bodies in Pompeii, would have helped. It became too dry for me.
I would contradict the reviewer who criticised the pronunciations of the reader. I would congratulate the reader and author on agreeing to use the correct pronunciation so that there were hard Cs and Gs which is the authentic Roman sound of Latin. So Legio is a g as in leg; Caesar would be much closer to the German rendering Yoolius Kaiser than the English Joolius Seezer. The Romans did not use the ch sound for words like coeli (heaven) which only came into Italian in the Medieval period. We should also expect waney weedy weaky (veni vidi vici). So well done to the reader. The reviewer is wrong to mark you down for that.

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  • Mandy
  • 03-02-2021

Very informative good book

Really enjoyed, lots of details to Roman life, especially as a soldier. Glad that our UK soggy weather and ground provided much information, impressive extensive research.

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  • Oleks GALKA
  • 16-11-2021

Gladius

This is a fascinating study, for Amateur Historians such as me. What impresses, is the Author's deductions.
This absorbing and unusual audiobook describes what it it was like to be a soldier in Roman times.
We learn about daily life, discipline, fighting and a host of other things.
A wonderful portrayal of military life in far off days.

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