Which was the most brilliant of Hannibal’s three crushing defeats of Roman armies? What tactics did Julius Caesar employ to defeat Pompey at Pharsalus? How was Alexander the Great able to command enough loyalty from his troops to lead them across half of the Asian landmass in search of new territories to conquer? What qualities made Attila the Hun a strategist of genius? How did Henry V of England achieve victory at Agincourt for such small loss, when the mounted French knights suffered casualties in their thousands?

The answers to these and a myriad other fascinating questions can be found in The Art of War: Great Commanders of the Ancient and Medieval World, a lavish chronological survey of the greatest commanders from earliest times to the Middle Ages. Compiled by a distinguished team of historians (including such names as Robin Lane Fox, Tom Holland, John Julius Norwich, Jonathan Sumption and Félipe Fernàndez-Armesto) working under the general editorship of Andrew Roberts, The Art of War is an authoritative account of the lives and careers of the greatest military commanders of the period, from Julius Caesar to Judas Maccabeus, from Belisarius to Bohemond, and from Trajan to Tamerlane. Every commander is profiled in a concise and informative 3000-word article which not only brings its subject vividly to life via a lively, fact-driven narrative, but also analyses and assesses his tactical and strategic gifts.  Each biography is accompanied by a ‘battle feature’ or ‘campaign feature’ – embellished by a full-colour battle plan or campaign map – focusing on the commander’s greatest battlefield achievement.

As accessible and informative as it is rigorous and scholarly, The Art of War: Great Commanders of the Ancient and Medieval World is the perfect introduction to its subject for the general reader – but also a stimulating and thought-provoking survey for those with greater knowledge of military history. With its companion volumeThe Art of War: Great Commanders of the Modern World, it forms an indispensable guide to the greatest generals the world has seen.