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Quest for the Lost Roman Legions : Discovering the Varus Battlefield
In 9 A.D., the 17th, 18th & 19th Roman legions and their auxiliary troops under command of Publius Quinctilius Varus vanished in the boggy wilds of Germania. They died singly and by the hundreds over several days in a carefully planned ambush led by Arminius-a Roman-trained German warrior determined to stop Rome's advance east beyond the Rhine River. By the time it was over, some 25,000 men, women, and children were dead and the course of European history had been forever altered. "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!" Emperor Augustus agonized aloud when he learned of the devastating loss. As the decades slipped past, the location of one of the western world's most important battlefields was lost to history for two millenia.
Fueled by an unshakeable curiosity and burning interest in the story, a British major named Tony Clunn delved into the nooks and crannies of times past. By sheer persistence and good luck, he turned the foundation of German national history on its ear. Convinced the running battle took place north of Osnabruck, Germany, Clunn set out to prove his point. His discovery of a handful of Roman coins in the late 1980s, followed by a flood of thousands of other artifacts (including weapons and human remains) ended the mystery once and for all. Today, a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art museum houses and interprets these priceless historical treasures on the very site Varus's legions were lost.
In Quest of the Lost Roman Legions is a masterful retelling of Clunn's search to discover the Varus battlefield. His well-placed, carefully conceived, and vivid writing style makes for a compelling read from the first page to the last, as he alternates between his incredible modern quest and the ancient tale of the Roman occupation of Germany that ultimately ended so tragically in the peat bogs of Kalkriese.
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May 19, 2005
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