I am one of those people who has always been fascinated by Hannibal. Back in the day, when I was very young, the shopping center across from our home in Hamburg, Germany had an old game in one of the retail stores. It wasn’t so much a game in the traditional sense but more a of question and answer one, a test your knowledge kind of a thing. The question that has remained with me to this day was: How many elephants did Hannibal have when he crossed the Alps?

Since then life has kept me busy, but the fascination for the Punic Wars remained throughout, eventually leading to a 200-plus book collection as well as hundreds if not thousands of scholarly articles. I have travelled to Italy, including Sicily, and Spain, to which I will return this year for some additional trips to Phoenician/Carthaginian sites.

Campaign 400: The Second Punic War in Iberia 220–206 BC came out of several failed book proposals. Seemingly, the market did not want yet another book on Hannibal – what’s wrong with commissioning editors? Fortunately, I pitched my long-time editor Nikolai Bogdanovic, who also had commissioned Campaign 299 on the Battle of Zama, a smaller aspect of the incredible Punic Wars and he accepted the proposal. Iberia it was, and I was delighted.

The exciting thing for me was to trace the first Carthaginian encroachment before the Second Punic War in Iberia. Phoenicians had been there, of course, as had Carthaginians and many others. I was also excited about the non-Hannibal actors in the theatre, such as Hamilcar, the Hasdrubals, Mago and the Numidian leaders who proved crucial for and against Carthage throughout the campaigns. And then, of course, there was Hannibal as a young commander, having learned the art of war, and winning his first battles in Iberia. Examining sieges, focusing on Saguntum mostly, it is easy to understand the challenges Hannibal would have faced had he laid siege to Rome after his mass-slaughter victory over the Romans at Cannae years later in mainland Italy. The Second Punic War in Iberia 220–206 BC spends considerable time in the early years of the reconquest of the peninsula by Carthage. It traces its slow but methodical expansion along the south-eastern seaboard and the founding of several bases, including that of New Carthage. It details the competition with Greek colonies and alliances that led to Roman interference and eventual war.

Iberia, with its diverse cultures and tribes, and with its varying environments from coasts to plains to mountain ranges, are fully featured in the Iberian campaigns. Who can forget Scipio’s audacious attack on New Carthage? Or Hannibal’s march through Spain to lay siege to several native cities east of modern Madrid, or the battle he fought outnumbered four to one while returning to his base at New Carthage? The other fascinating events were the ever-shifting alliances for and against the Carthaginian and Roman invaders, resulting in the assassinations of Hamilcar and Hasdrubal the Fair, and the abandonment, at times, of Roman forces, leading to disastrous results. Two Scipios died in Iberia. For Hannibal, Iberia was the proving ground as a highly skilled commander, but the fight for the peninsula was by and large waged by his brothers Hasdrubal and Mago.

The campaign in Iberia was crucial to the overall conduct of the second of the Punic Wars, and Carthage, often accused of not supporting the war effort, spent fortunes on reinforcements despite its naval inferiority to the Romans. Ultimately, Iberia was conquered by the Romans, the logistical support for Hannibal in Italy was cut off, and Numidian alliances shifted favouring Rome, finally leading to Carthage’s defeat in the Second Punic War. Often the Numidian and Iberian warriors are left with a poor image by many scholars. In this book, I hope to demonstrate their value and contributions to the overall campaigns.

My last book featured the wonderful artwork of the great Peter Dennis, who recently took a step back from this form of work. I have seen the work of the Italian artist Marco Capparoni for the new book, and I am very pleased. Hopefully, you too will enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it – well, I actually had a blast.

The Second Punic War in Iberia 220–206 BC is an excellent primer for anyone interested in general military history in this theatre of war and is available now.