This is a new Osprey by Raffaele D'Amato on the Roman army in the east during the 3rd century AD. This is the period after the 50 years of anarchy with the accession of Diocletian, the first of the Illyrian emperors. The focus here is on the Balkans, so it's a no-brainer for me.
You get everything you would expect from the Men-at-Arms series for your modest outlay. An introduction to the period and a chronology. Then how the military was organised. There were still recognisable legions in this period, with similar names, although numbers and unit types were changing.
The legions were distributed according to the threats, with the Dacian border having perhaps 10% of the total strength. At least until it was largely abandoned in the 270s. The Balkan defences were then strengthened along the Danube. A helpful table sets out where each legion was based and similar charts for the Auxilia and Numeri.
The arms, equipment and clothing get detailed treatment, supported by the usual colour plates. This is the meat of the book. The latest archaeology is discussed by region, including several Balkan finds. All are well illustrated. There are some interesting variations on the standard legionary that I hadn't seen before, as well as the auxiliaries. A Syrian infantryman with a long spear and javelins caught my eye. There are also some of the more exotic Roman units of the period, including dromedarius.
There is an extensive bibliography if you want to read more. Overall, more than just an introduction. All you really need to build a wargames army of the period with plenty of options. There isn't a lot on tactics, but that is available elsewhere.
On the subject of the Romans, I would highly recommend listening to James Lacey being interviewed about his new book, Rome: Strategy of Empire, on the New Books in Military History podcast. Not just a military strategy but also a focus on what made the empire tick. Not least the economics that sustained the legions and the devastating impact of the civil wars.
|28mm cataphracts from my collection|