Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reference Book of the Week

I haven't been as regular as I'd have liked with the review feature, partly due to a lot of travel in August and partly due to the amount of work involved in readying Flight of the Hawk for publication. In an effort to get back on schedule, here is another recent acquisition from my bookshelf.

This week's choice: The Roman Cavalry by Karen R. Dixon. 272 pages. At $39.01 on ($40.05 retail) the book is reasonable value for money. The author is a professional archaeological illustrator.

Contents: Sources; Origins, unit strength, organization and titulature; Equipment and unit armament styles; Recruitment; Conditions of service; Training; The hippika gymnasia; The employment of cavalry in peacetime and wartime; Military records and the supply of horses; Roman cavalry mounts; Stables and grooming; Water and food supply; Welfare; Baggage animals. Well illustrated with line drawings and black and white photographs.

The author uses information from classical sources combined with archaeological findings and data from 19th and early 20th century European records to give a fairly detailed picture of the Roman cavalry over a period of several centuries. We learn about the recruitment, training, and equipment of both men and horses and their shared life together. Although I would have liked to see a little more detail in certain sections, this is a good overview. I notice that Dixon has also co-authored a study of Roman cavalry equipment, which may have the color plates this volume lacks.

The Roman Cavalry by Karen R. Dixon: recommended.

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