30 January 2018: A new manual from publisher Haynes provides a fascinating, in-depth guide to one of the most demanding forms of combat in military history – siege warfare.
The Siege Warfare Operations Manual, published in February 2018, explains the tactics and technologies of siege warfare for both attackers and defenders, from ancient times to the beginning of the gunpowder age.
The manual is authored by Dr Chris McNab, a military historian who has published more than 100 books on topics ranging from the Roman Army to 20th Century warfare.
Adopting Haynes’ famous practical style, the book uses specially commissioned artworks and diagrams to help reveal the techniques behind the weaponry, defences and tactical structures used by both sides.
Mighty siege engines – including torsion artillery, trebuchets, battering rams and siege towers – are closely examined, and illustrated in fine detail.
The book discusses the complexities of underground and overground assault, specifically escalade, undermining and sapping, and what happened after a besieging army forced a breach. It also investigates the formalities and deceits of non-martial options – the subtle arts of negotiation, spying and infiltration.
Content from the manual includes:
- Specially commissioned artworks of siege engines from pre-Roman to late Medieval times, including battering rams, catapults, and siege towers
- An examination of the successes and failures of some of the world’s most famous sieges, including those of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar
- An exploration of assault tactics as well as the logistics of maintaining a siege, together with behind-the-scenes strategies such as undermining and espionage
Author Chris McNab said: “One of the most fascinating aspects of siege warfare is that, despite the breadth of the period and the numerous places across the world it occurred in, the essential tactics for settling or surviving a siege remained remarkably constant. The focus on one fixed location meant that sieges were brutal wars of attrition, often lasting years, marked by highs and lows for both sides.
“This book provides both the historical context in which these many battles occurred, as well as a practical guide to exactly how they were fought. It places the reader both inside the fortress – looking out at the fearsome troops and weapons approaching, as well as outside – surrounding the target and pondering just how its formidable defences could be breached.”
About the author
Dr Chris McNab specializes in military history and military technology. To date he has published more than 100 books, including A History of the World in 100 Weapons (2011), Deadly Force (2009), The Roman Army: The Greatest War Machine of the Ancient World (2012), and The Soldier (2016). He has also written extensively for major encyclopedia series, magazines and newspapers. He lives in South Wales, UK.
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