A "picket" is a
wooden spear, sharp at both ends,
used to hold the line.
Jenny made fun of me for reading a textbook, but I don't care! So by telling you what this book is you already know what this book is about. I mean-- it is exactly what you imagine it to be. An armchair historian's guide to warfare in "The Ancient World"-- meaning the Western Civilization's idea of "The Ancient World," so starting with Sumeria, moving through Babylon, Assyria, the Akkadians, the Hebrews of course, on into Egypt & the Hyksos, then to Greece & the various city-states therein, the Persians, then to the Romans who are of course the meat & potatoes for most readers, & the Goths & Huns & ending with Byzantium's cataphracts as direct precursors of the Medieval knight. The book hits all the guys you'd suspect, is what I mean to say-- the usual suspects. There is a lot of fleshing out of the non-big names, which is where I think the book excels. There is perhaps an over-abundance of information on the Hebrews, but then there is a famous historical document to draw from, whether or not it is of dubious value. I will admit I liked Dougherty's theories about Joshua at the Battle of Jericho. Far & away the best thing about this book are the copious illustrations. They are detailed enough to be accurate & evocative but not enough to be...well, made up? Sometimes attempts to portray the past get bogged down with "filling in the gaps" but art in this book strikes a wonderful happy medium, & includes photographs of archeological objects for verisimilitude. Maybe it is the Dungeons & Dragons nerd in me, but the depictions of weapons, gear, & seige-works give me a bit of a thrill: I've re-drawn a picture of fortifications that put me in mind of some rather nasty traps: