Summary and book reviews of The Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham

The Pride of Carthage

A Novel of Hannibal

by David Anthony Durham

The Pride of Carthage
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2005, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2005, 592 pages

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Book Summary

An epic work of literary fiction about the superb military leader of Carthage, Hannibal Barca, and his struggle against the mighty Roman Republic.

With a vast cast of characters and nationalities, twists of fate, and tales of inspired leadership, David Anthony Durham perfectly captures the legendary Hannibal's world in Pride of Carthage. Beginning in ancient Spain, where Hannibal's father had carved out a Carthaginian empire, the novel traces the origins of the war, the opening moves, and Hannibal's inspired choice to attack Rome via a land route most believed impossible. In graphic, panoramic prose, Durham describes the battles, including the icy slaughter of the Trebia; the mist-shrouded battle along Lake Trasimene; the battle of Cannae, in which Hannibal's outnumbered force surrounded and decimated seventy thousand Romans in a single afternoon; and Zama, the hard slog that proved to be the decisive contest.

Along the way we meet a variety of major historical figures on both sides of the conflict, as well as characters representing the vast array of other ethnicities who played a part in the war: Iberians and Gauls, Numidians and Libyans, Macedonians and Moors. Hannibal's family is brought to life: his wife, mother, sisters, and young son, as is Publius Scipio, the young Roman who was the only match for Hannibal's genius on the field of battle — and who eventually defeated him.

Pride of Carthage is a stunning achievement in historical fiction, one that will transport readers to a world of mesmerizing authenticity of character, event, and detail.

One
Prelude

The delegation arrived in the capital of the Roman Republic during the waning days of the Mediterranean autumn. They had traveled from the city of Saguntum in eastern Iberia to beg an audience before the Senate. Once they were granted it, a man named Gramini spoke for them. He looked about the chamber with a clear-eyed visage, voice strong but somewhat lispy. The Romans had to crane forward on their benches and watch his lips to understand him, some with hands cupped to their ears, a few with grimaces and whispers that the man's Latin was unintelligible. But in the end all understood the substance of his words, and that was this: The Saguntines were afraid. They feared for their very existence. They were a jewel embedded in a rough land, rife with tribal conflict and turmoil. They were sheep living with a mighty wolf at their back. The creature's name was not new to them, for it was the ever hungry Hannibal Barca of Carthage, the son of Hamilcar, avowed enemy ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
The Carthaginian commander Hannibal Barca stunned the ancient world with his shrewd, relentless, and logic-defying onslaught against the mighty Roman empire. Pride of Carthage captures the legendary Hannibal and his unparalleled military campaign in a novel charged with pulse-quickening action and boldly imagined detail. The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are intended to enliven your group’s discussion of this evocative epic.

ABOUT THIS BOOK
Sickened by Rome’s insatiable appetite for world domination and fueled by his late father’s determination to bring the Italian empire to its knees, Hannibal Barca of Carthage recruits a ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Ben Ehrenreich

Durham vividly captures the frenzy of ancient warfare -- battle-maddened pachyderms, hails of javelins and arrows, ordered ranks of Roman light infantry crumbling before Hannibal's mercenary army of 'copper-skinned' Libyans, tattooed and dreadlocked Numidians and blond, blood-drinking Gauls. 'The world is cruel,' Durham's Hannibal proclaims, and it is. Infamies abound. It's all here 'steaming loops of viscera,' catapulted human heads, the spray of blood above the battlefield darkening the sky like rain … a skillfully structured and often gripping novel.

Kirkus Reviews

Durham has reimagined this vanished world in stunningly precise detail, and his lucid explanations of the give-and-take of military decision-making help the reader through some dauntingly complicated material. Nor is this novel merely a pageant the author vividly portrays both Hannibal's driven resolve and Scipio's ruthless efficiency, as well as the conflicted emotions that rule several powerfully realized secondary figures. . . . One of the best of the current crop of historical novels, and a career-making march forward for Durham.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Durham weaves abundant psychological, military and political detail into this vivid account of one of the most romanticized periods of history.

Library Journal - Robert Conroy

An epic tale well told, this will be easily understood even by those with limited knowledge of the period and may conjure thoughts of Robert E. Lee's battles against the Union in the Civil War. Highly recommended for most historical fiction collections.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

Starred Review. Durham's epic is truly a big, magnificent, sprawling story complete with a sizable cast of compelling characters, intricately drawn battle scenes, and fluid, graceful prose.

Author Blurb Tom Holland, author of Rubicon The Last Years of the Roman Republic
An extraordinary achievement Durham puts flesh on the bones of Carthage in a way that no novelist has done since Flaubert wrote Salammbo.

Author Blurb Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall and Lost Nation
Pride of Carthage is that rare and wonderful thing an historical novel that's not only deeply evocative of time and place, character and situation, but is also lyrically written, compellingly composed. I savored each page while ever more breathless as the story unfolded. Durham has broken the mold of historical fiction and created a masterpiece.

Reader Reviews

schreiberjo

Pride of Carthage
Pride of Carthage is a wonderful book and is a moving experience and shows what a great writer David is.

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