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Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
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A Novel of Hannibal

A-PrideCarthageThe great Carthaginian warrior Hannibal remains one of the most compelling, misunderstood figures in ancient history. In Pride of Carthage, Durham humanizes this reputedly bloodthirsty general. Starting with Hannibal’s brutal victory over the Roman city of Saguntum, he explores—through the experiences of a foot soldier named Imco Vaca—Hannibal and his vast North African army’s treacherous odyssey toward Rome. The perilous Alps and Pyrenees, sickness and starvation, frigid temperatures, and ambushes by nomadic tribes all take their toll on Hannibal’s army, which falls from 100,000 to 30,000 men. Although barbaric, Hannibal is not impervious to human emotions like heartbreak or dreams of valor. He longs for his wife and son in Spain and for the spoils of a victory that, for all his power and ambition, elude him.
Doubleday. 567 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0385506031

San Francisco Chronicle 4.5 of 5 Stars
"But now along with Willa Cather’s Bishop Lamy of old Santa Fe, Gore Vidal’s Lincoln and George Garrett’s Sir Walter Raleigh in the Tower of London, Durham’s Hannibal Barca, the great African general, can be added to the list of historical figures with whom they have kept great company. … [I]t’s not just Hannibal and his warrior family that Durham has given us; he has delivered some of the best battle scenes on the page since Michael Shaara’s Civil War fiction." Alan Cheuse

Christian Science Monitor 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Much that was lost is revived here in all its glory and gore, but ultimately what’s more stunning is Durham’s imagination, his sensitivity to the cost and exhaustion of war. It’s a brilliant exploration of the tension between private destiny and historical force …" Ron Charles

Tucson Citizen 4 of 5 Stars
"Pride of Carthage is the sweeping story of Hannibal and the times in which he lived. David Anthony Durham has written a book that is richly textured and brimming with historic detail." Larry Cox

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"This is Durham at his unsentimental best … For all its kitsch, Pride of Carthage is a skillfully structured and often gripping novel." Ben Ehrenreich

Critical Summary

Durham (Walk Through Darkness, Gabriel’s Story) offers a compelling study in contrasts. Pride of Carthage is at once a sweeping saga, an intimate portrait of an individual, a military history, and a tale about love, devotion, and loyalty. Critics hailed such plays in scale, praising Durham for pulling off the risks of writing a panoramic history of epic battles while capturing the dramas of individuals, from Roman generals to North African kings, foot soldiers, and former slaves. Only The New York Times Book Review faulted the subplots involving Imco Vaca and Aradna as "soap operatic." Overall, the novel is a compelling, well-executed work.