Sunday, December 9, 2018
Book Review: 'For the Love of Armin' by Michael Kramer
‘The ancient Germanic tribes thought that their women had many prophetic powers’
Australian author Michael Kramer earned degrees in architecture and engineering and now adds the Arts to his arsenal. Michael served in the Australian Army during the Vietnam War in 1968-1969. He has published three books – FULL CIRCLE FOR MICK based on the Vietnam War and its aftermath, ANGLO-SAXON INVASION, and FOR THE LOVE OF ARMIN, the last two examine ancient history with an emphasis on the Roman conquests.
The subtitle of FOR THE LOVE OF ARMIN is telling – ‘The Destroyer of Three Roman Legions and his People. In his Introduction Michael shares –‘I found the research into the background of the hero who delivered Germania from the yoke of the Romans to be challenging and also immensely satisfying…As all stories, must have a beginning, middle and end, it was at first difficult to decide when to start this story and the decision was reached to begin with background items such as how the ancient Germanic tribes provided food, the status of their women, their religious beliefs, their funeral practices, their military traditions and formations, weapons used and tactics. Having said this, it was also necessary to include the Roman ranks, military organisation, tactics, armor and weapons, including their war machines. All of that is told by the ghost of Adalhard, who begins the story immediately after the first gladiatorial contest of Thumelicus, who was the son of Armin. Adalhard continues from the above by telling the story by giving you the background of the ancient Germanic tribes and the Roman invaders of his country.’
Michael’s writing fits the subject well, as is evident in the opening – ‘At the mid-morning hour of ten a.m., a guard appeared at the door of the cell housing Thumelicus and said to him, “Thumelicus, it is time for you to entertain the Roman Senators in the arena. You have been matched with a retiarius we call Olaf and this Gaul does not like Germanic boys one little bit, so expect a hard fight!” With that said, the guard now escorted Thumelicus, who was as usual, armed with helmet, and some chain mail armour over one arm as well as his shoulder, a greave on his left leg as well as a heavy Roman shield and his gladius. Thumelicus now walked straight into the arena, and just like both his mother and father before him, he was totally unafraid and he was in fact looking forward to the contest. There were no cheers to spur him on, just total silence as he was being appraised by the crowd watching as well as the group of Roman Senators. Then suddenly, there was a lot of wild cheering and applause which was for the benefit of Olaf, who was now entering the arena. Both gladiators now addressed the crowd with the standard form of address, “Hail Caesar, we who are about to die, salute you!”
The complex plot is well outlined – ‘In September of the year 9 A.D., the young Germanic warrior known as Armin to his friends and Arminius to his Roman enemies, successfully took on and defeated three entire Roman legions. This resulted in the deaths of over twenty thousand Roman soldiers. This in turn resulted in the Roman emperor called Tiberius recalling all Roman military units from Germania. The Germanic tribes would associate for their common good, often meeting and forming up for offensive or defensive war, but they were always separate and very independent. Armin knew that the best way to ensure that his country was not bothered by outside invaders again was to become a single country complete with it own army and navy. In this he crossed swords with the independent temper of his own people. They did not want any king from anywhere telling them what to do. In due course, this resulted in even the members of his own family taking up arms against him in order to make sure that the tribes of Germania remained independent and free. Such was the concern of the ancient Germanic tribesmen that this might not be the case, that Armin was murdered by the members of his own family.’
It is rewarding and enriching to read this history that Michael brings to life in these pages. Skilled writing and research result in a fascinating survey of not only Roman quests but also the heroism of an invaded country who does in indeed have a hero in Armin!
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.