The best books about Carthage and Hannibal in the Ancient Mediterranean

Who am I?

I am an archaeologist and ancient historian, originally from Canada but living in London in the UK. I teach and write and excavate the ancient world and have worked both in the Mediterranean in Italy and North Africa and in the ancient near east, in Iran, and in Oman. I try to understand how the ancient world worked, both the history and the material culture, and how much it impacts us still today. Hannibal was such a crucial figure in this world just as it was forming, and he was from Africa, was Carthaginian, and we have lost so much knowledge of him and his culture.  


I wrote...

Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life

By Eve MacDonald,

Book cover of Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life

What is my book about?

A book that puts the incredible story of Hannibal and his war with the Romans into the context of his own city, Carthage, and the wider Mediterranean world before Rome.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of In Search of the Phoenicians

Eve MacDonald Why did I love this book?

This is one of the best books ever written about the Phoenicians. These are the people who founded Carthage and were so influential in the early Mediterranean west. They founded some of the oldest cities in Europe (places like Cadiz) and are essential to Mediterranean history, yet they have been forgotten too. This book brings the context and story of the Phoenicians and the early Mediterranean to life.

By Josephine Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of the Phoenicians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who were the ancient Phoenicians-and did they actually exist?

The Phoenicians traveled the Mediterranean long before the Greeks and Romans, trading, establishing settlements, and refining the art of navigation. But who these legendary sailors really were has long remained a mystery. In Search of the Phoenicians makes the startling claim that the "Phoenicians" never actually existed as such. Taking readers from the ancient world to today, this book argues that the notion of these sailors as a coherent people with a shared identity, history, and culture is a product of modern nationalist ideologies-and a notion very much at odds with…


Book cover of Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization

Eve MacDonald Why did I love this book?

A great read that will take you through the whole story of Carthage from its Phoenician beginnings to the destruction by Rome and beyond. Context and details on the whole story of Hannibal and also the history of one of the most important cities from the Ancient Mediterranean.

By Richard Miles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Carthage Must Be Destroyed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first full-scale history of Hannibal's Carthage in decades and "a convincing and enthralling narrative." (The Economist )

Drawing on a wealth of new research, archaeologist, historian, and master storyteller Richard Miles resurrects the civilization that ancient Rome struggled so mightily to expunge. This monumental work charts the entirety of Carthage's history, from its origins among the Phoenician settlements of Lebanon to its apotheosis as a Mediterranean empire whose epic land-and-sea clash with Rome made a legend of Hannibal and shaped the course of Western history. Carthage Must Be Destroyed reintroduces readers to the ancient glory of a lost people…


Book cover of Rome: An Empire's Story

Eve MacDonald Why did I love this book?

This is a great read on the way that Rome became an empire. It puts the whole story of the city of Rome and what it developed into (i.e. the biggest power of the ancient world and a paradigm for many empires that followed) into context and into the history of the Mediterranean world. The book is so useful to read because it is well written and contemporary, but it also helps us to understand Hannibal. This is because Rome's version of Carthage and Hannibal is the only version that we have to deal with, Hannibal in many ways becomes a reflection of Roman ideas of their own imperialism.

By Greg Woolf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rome in the archaic age was a minor satellite between the Etruscan and Greek world. This book traces the expansion of Roman influence first within Italy, then around the Mediterranean world and finally, at breakneck speed, deep into Europe, out to the Atlantic, along the edge of the Sahara and down the Red Sea. But there had been other empires that had expanded rapidily: what made Rome remarkable was that it managed to sustain its position for so long. Rome's Fall poses less of a mystery than its survival. Understanding how this happens involves understanding the building blocks of imperial…


Book cover of Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War

Eve MacDonald Why did I love this book?

The Battle of Cannae is one of the most famous of the ancient world. This is such an amazing read – it is helpful to understand and get background for Hannibal and the battle of Cannae itself, what it might have felt like to be in it. Also, the whole context of the key battle of the Second Punic War is deeply researched and perfect if you want more about these key factors.  

By Gregory Daly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cannae as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a hot and dusty summer's day in 216 BC, the forces of the Carthaginian general Hannibal faced the Roman army in a dramatic encounter at Cannae. Massively outnumbered, the Carthaginians nevertheless won an astonishing victory - one that left more than 50,000 men dead.
Gregory Daly's enthralling study considers the reasons that led the two armies to the field of battle, and why each followed the course that they did when they got there. It explores in detail the composition of the armies, and the tactics and leadership methods of the opposing generals. Finally, by focusing on the experiences…


Book cover of Hannibal's Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247-183 BC

Eve MacDonald Why did I love this book?

Here is a book that takes the family of Hannibal, the Barcids, as they were known and looks at their role in the formation of the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BCE. This is an accessible and well-written deep dive into the identity and ideas behind the family that created Hannibal by one of the best-known scholars of the topic. 

By Dexter Hoyos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hannibal's Dynasty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Accessible and enlightening, Hannibal's Dynasty provides the full story of Carthage's achievement, going beyond the usual focus on Hannibal and military matters alone to look at a wide range of political and diplomatic issues too.

Dexter Hoyos shows how the aristocratic Barcid family won dominance in the free republic of Carthage, and how they exploited family connections to lead Carthage to greatness at home and abroad.

For students of Hannibal, his dynasty and his legacy - this is the book to read.


You might also like...

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

Book cover of The River of Eternity

Bruce Balfour

New book alert!

What is my book about?

1184 BCE. Ramesses III, who will become the last of the great pharaohs, is returning home from battle. He will one day assume the throne of the Egyptian empire, and the plots against him and his children have already started. Even a god can die.

Ray was raised with the teenage children of Ramesses as their friend, but his own mysterious past exposes him to threats inside and outside of the Egyptian court. When a prince is killed, Ray is framed for the murder and must run to protect Bull, the oldest son of Ramesses. So begins Ray’s dangerous journey from the snake pit of royal palace intrigue into a violent world of treachery and enemies that will take years to conquer if he can survive.

The River of Eternity

By Bruce Balfour,

What is this book about?

From the national bestselling author of The Forge of Mars and The Digital Dead, an Ancient Egyptian epic adventure thriller series, based on real events, for fans of Wilbur Smith, Steven Saylor, and Paul Doherty.

This is the first book of a series leading up to the event known as The Harem Conspiracy, the assassination of Pharaoh Ramesses III in New Kingdom Egypt (1184 BCE), which was led by members of his own family. Details were drawn from the first recorded judicial trial transcript ever recovered (Judicial Papyrus of Turin plus other fragments of the original papyrus).


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