Sunday, 27 September 2015


The AW 50th issue special edition arrived friday. It's a bit of a curate's egg. There are articles on naval warfare but rather limited ones. They raise an interesting point about digital versus print media.
 The main naval article deals with the battle of Ecnomus quite well but has a rather uninspiring graphic of the progress of the battle. I think it is here print must try to capture readers, I feel. Lively explanation rather than endless quotation or discussion of scources.  On the other hand there is a splendid double-page colour illustration showing a Punic 4 getting the better of a Roman 5. The drowning Latins in the foreground are horribly convincing but if I was a Punic archer I don't think I would waste arrows on men in the water. The nice thing about this picture is the unusual angle one views the capsizing Roman vessel from.

The other long maritime article is about the Roman decision to expand their maritime capability in the course of the First Punic War. The slight drawback of the article is that it does not seem to take into account the newer ideas that neither fleet was composed mainly of 5's.

Such information has been derived from the RPMN researches at the Ægadi Islands battle site. It is this which graces the cover of the edition with a short accompanying note. There is another article which summarises finds from Ægadi but not in much detail, with references to the RPMN website.

It is welcome to find a publication that deals in some way with galley warfare but the sum of the material here is nothing one could not find on the web quickly and, a little more time would provide so much information that this offering would quickly pale. This is a problem for a periodical. How to compete with the web. For me, the tactile pleasure of a book or magazine - and especially the smell of a newly-printed magazine as one opens the envelope !!! is unmissable. Content is the problem . How to find it and present it cost effectively on paper. Many publishers try quantity over quality and flood-out poorer offerings. The kind of art AW includes is often inspiring but maybe it needs inspiring articles too. Not to tread over to the territory of all blood and sex, but maybe get out of the rut of showing reenactors alongside summarising pieces.  In this issue a piece of historical fiction is presented - this is certainly trying something new, but does it belong in AW ? AW is a little trapped between wanting some academic bona fides but needing broad appeal over a wide time range to get enough readers.

A tall order, but BUY the magazine and hope they continue to work on it. There is not much else out there other than Osprey and Pen and Sword.

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