Book Review: “Boudicca’s Rebellion AD 60-61: The Britons rise up against Rome” by Nic Field

Boudicca's rebellion book cover

The story of Boudica, the Celtic Warrior Queen has always intrigued me. She rose in rebellion in the first century against the Roman Empire when they occupied Britain and had some success. I wanted to know more. In searching for sources, I found this book was available. The cover has an almost cartoonish drawing so I was a little dismayed. But I was wrong to be concerned. This is a very thorough account of Boudica’s rebellion with lots of valuable information.

Osprey Publishing specializes in military history books. They advertise that their books are “Accounts of history’s greatest conflicts, detailing the command strategies, tactics and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of each campaign.” This is certainly the case with this book. Author Nic Fields has an excellent grasp of the history of the Roman military. He details how the soldiers dressed, how the Roman army was organized, what weapons they used, etc. There are photographs of Roman military re-enactors, illustrating what they looked like. There are photos and explanations of archaeological evidence from the era along with maps and drawings.

Fields tells us about the primary sources: Tacitus and Cassius Dio. He gives thorough analysis of both authors, their accounts of the events and the differences and similarities. He explains how the Celts had no written records so we can only go by the Roman version of events. The sections of the book include opposing commanders, opposing armies, opposing plans, the campaign and the aftermath. I especially liked his detailing of the Celtic forces and the type of chariots they used to fight with and how they employed the chariots during battle.

My favorite section of the book talks about the location of the final battle between the Romans and Boudica’s forces. Tacitus and Dio do not give the actual location. The only thing we know is the battle occurred in the Midlands of Britain. Fields has identified a possible location and gives several photographs. This is really fascinating.

As mentioned, the book is filled with photographs. The illustrations of Peter Dennis are fantastic. He incorporates what we know about the Celts and Boudica herself. Certain items in the illustrations are numbered and there is a legend beneath the picture explaining the historical fact behind what you are seeing. I enjoyed the artist’s imagination very much.

So, I learned a lot about Boudica’s campaign against the Romans and this book made the time period come alive. I also learned about Osprey Publishing and will use them as a resource again for military history. I can highly recommend this book.

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