The best books about Carthage

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Carthage and why they recommend each book.

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Carthage Conspiracy

By Dallin H. Oaks, Marvin S. Hill,

Book cover of Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith

Not only is this book fascinating, but it is also utterly honest, and honesty is in short supply in Mormon history-telling. Oaks is a politically conservative and culturally controversial member of the Mormon church’s ruling triumvirate, which in no way detracts from this masterpiece.

Who am I?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 

I wrote...

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam,

Book cover of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

What is my book about?

American Crucifixion is the definitive, readable account of the last days of Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and founder of the Mormon Church. All of Mormon history flows from Smith’s brutal assassination in June, 1844 --  The harrowing cross-country trek to the Great Salt Lake; the rise of Brigham Young; and the embrace of polygamy, the system of “plural marriage” (one husband, many wives) that haunts the church even today.

The Carthaginians

By Dexter Hoyos,

Book cover of The Carthaginians

Carthage, founded by the Phoenicians in the late 9th century BC, was one of the major powers of the western Mediterranean, establishing domination in North Africa, western Sicily and the Mediterranean islands, and Spain. Its struggle with the Greeks for domination of Sicily in the 4th century and wars with Rome in the 3rd-2nd centuries were seminal events in Mediterranean history. This book offers an excellent introduction to the Carthaginians and their culture. It traces the development of the city from its foundation to its destruction by Rome in 146 BC, presenting a wealth of archaeological and written evidence and explaining many of the complexities of Carthage’s history and society.

Although aimed at an academic readership, it presents this material in a manner that is accessible to anyone with an interest in the ancient Mediterranean.

Who am I?

I have a lifelong fascination for history and archaeology. Following a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology (University of Edinburgh), and a brief period as a field archaeologist, I undertook a PhD (University of Newcastle) researching the history of Greek settlement in southern Italy. My subsequent career has been devoted to the study of ancient Italy and Sicily, with a specific focus on the development of ethnic and cultural identities, and the formation of urban societies. I have held posts at several UK universities, including research fellowships at UCL, a lectureship at the University of Newcastle, and I am currently a part-time lecturer and Honorary Fellow at the University of Durham.

I wrote...

The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars

By Kathryn Lomas,

Book cover of The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars

What is my book about?

In the late Iron Age, Rome was a small collection of huts arranged over a few hills. By the third century BC, it had become a large and powerful city, with monumental temples, public buildings, and grand houses. It had conquered the whole of Italy and was poised to establish an empire. But how did it accomplish this historic transformation?

This book explores the development of Rome during this period, and the nature of its control over Italy, considering why and how the Romans achieved this spectacular dominance. For Rome was only one of a number of emerging centres of power during this period. From its complex forms of government to its innovative connections with other states, Kathryn Lomas shows what set Rome apart. Examining the context and impact of the city's dominance, as well as the key political, social, and economic changes it engendered, this is crucial reading for anyone interested in Ancient Rome.

The Coin of Carthage

By Winifred Bryher,

Book cover of The Coin of Carthage

Bryher's historical novels, once acclaimed, are out of print. I think Bryher deserves re-discovery. I like how The Coin of Carthage, set during ancient Rome’s war against Carthage, concerns everyday people: traders, farmers, common soldiers. And no Rome. Rome is a glimpse from a hill. I like this ̶ a true peasant’s sense of distance, where very near is still far. We follow the workaday lives of Italian-Greek traders Zonas and Dasius, from Naples docks to Carthage streets, to bucolic Tivoli, farms, markets, courtyards, piers, ships, mule-trains. Setting Italia, characters commoners, heroes Italian-Greeks, the periphery, usually silenced, is given voice. A curiously moving book.

Who am I?

Ever since I spent a day wandering the Roman forum, imagining Caesar’s funeral at the site of his pyre, standing on the Palatine imagining living in palatial Palatine splendor, and looking down on Senators, plebeians, public baths, the Colisseum, temples, statues, basilicae, patricians, slaves, street vendors, centurions, courtesans, ladies, gladiators, urchins, schoolboys, pickpockets, and priests, I knew I wanted to write about it. I have done intensive research, with skills honed earning a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University (specialty: literary-historical). I seek out literary historical novels, novels with distinctive style, artful plotting, engaging characterization, and historical fidelity. 

I wrote...

Ashes I: A Novel of the Poor of Ancient Rome

By Theodore Irvin Silar,

Book cover of Ashes I: A Novel of the Poor of Ancient Rome

What is my book about?

It is ancient, late-Republican Rome, and, denied the freedom he was promised, successful merchant-slave, Ariston, sets fire to his master's Palatine villa, rescues a slave-girl, Felicia, from crucifixion, and both escape to the distant Umbrian mountains where they marry and raise a family, setting in play an odyssey that spans generations, an odyssey that leads from the cruel streets of the slums of Rome to chariot races in the Circus Maximus, from bloody, no-holds-barred street boxing to the pursuit of fugitive slaves across the length and breadth of Italia, from the great landed estates of the Roman countryside to the law courts of the Roman Forum.

A Choice of Destinies

By Melissa Scott,

Book cover of A Choice of Destinies

Melissa Scott has written the best “What would’ve happened if Alexander didn’t die?” alternate history. It’s a popular question among historians, but usually assumes he survived his final illness. Scott takes a different tack, choosing instead to diverge some years before his death. Here, he returns from Asia to put down a revolt in Greece. After that, he goes west, against first Rome, then Carthage. Although the characters aren’t as fleshed out as in some of her later military SF (this was an early work), her grasp of military maneuvers and politics, for which she would later earn attention, is on full display. It’s a viable tale of what might have happened, had Alexander decided to take on Rome, or Carthage, at that point in their histories.

Who am I?

Dr. Jeanne Reames is a professional historian, college professor, and specialist in ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great. She also earned a degree in creative writing and has published fiction and poetry. She’s been collecting fiction about Alexander the Great for almost 35 years, and previously managed the website Beyond Renault: Alexander the Great in Fiction since WW I, until retiring it after over ten years. She has (almost) every professionally published English-language novel about Alexander, and has penned several articles on Alexander in fiction, including “Alexander the Great and Hephaistion in Fiction after Stonewall,” for The Routledge Companion to the Reception of Ancient Greek and Roman Sexuality (forthcoming).

I wrote...

Dancing with the Lion: Becoming

By Jeanne Reames,

Book cover of Dancing with the Lion: Becoming

What is my book about?

The story of Alexander before he became “the Great.” As the son of Philip, celebrated king of Macedon, Alexander must excel in all ways: be faster, smarter, stronger, and more courageous. Competition defines a man's fate in his world, loyalty rare and precious—but he finds it in Hephaistion, who accompanies him for lessons under the philosopher Aristotle. Hephaistion's friendship teaches him to trust his skills and become a leader of men.

Read the genesis of a legend, and of one of history’s most celebrated and enduring emotional bonds. “[A] well-told, if unexpected, coming-of-age story.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

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