Book Review: Roman Conquests - Britain

I received a copy of Roman Conquests: Britain from Pen and Sword for the purposes of this review. However, all opinions are my own. 

Roman Britain was something we covered in depth at university but honestly, I haven't given much thought about it since. Which is weird, because it's thanks to the Romans that we Brits have things like rabbits, olives, straight roads and words like "fork". 

A new book, Roman Conquests: Britain by Simon Elliott looks at the Roman campaigns to subdue Britain, how they went about it and what was actually achieved. 

I was blown away by the detail in this book. You're treated to a whole lot of military history, including lots of Latin words, weapons and battle formations, which really helped me visualise events like the famous battle between Boudicca and the Romans. I learned a lot more about the extent of resistance to Roman rule too, which I hadn't really appreciated before. And I was so pleased to see a lot of modern research quoted, including references to recent archaeological evidence, which is always great in a history book like this. 

The writing style is quite academic I would say - slightly formal, but very clear - and in a narrative style. This makes the subject matter easier to grasp as sometimes the names and timelines of the Legions, Emperors and Celts can get confusing if you're new to the subject. It's 192 pages long, and it took me about a week to read. 

Photo by Chris Karidis on Unsplash

The book also has a good number of illustrations in the centre, including photographs, and also some illustrations which help to clarify the knowledge in the text and also set the scene. I loved the reconstructions of Roman dress and armour in the book and the beautiful, illustrated scenes that helped place the information in more context. At the back of the book, there's a timeline which is also handy to recap with or refer to as you're reading. 

I learned a lot of things I didn't know reading Roman Conquests: Britain, and if you're interested in this time period I'd urge you to have a read, too. Many important aspects of the different Roman campaigns are explored and without giving too much away, I think it might also give you a different perspective on the Romans in Britain. We tend to airbrush over the Roman invasions, declaring them a success and moving straight onto the building of roads, mosaics, baths and forts here in many areas of Britain. But this book highlights the struggles they actually faced not only getting to our shores in the first place but also then aiming to subdue the Celts,  establish real Roman rule and then maintain it. I found it a real eye-opener. 

Thank you to Pen and Sword for the review copy. 

Find Roman Conquests Britain at the Pen and Sword website or order it at your local bookseller. 

Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below... 

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