On 31 December AD 406, a group of German tribes crossed the Rhine, pierced the Roman defensive limes and began a rampage across Roman Gaul, sacking cities such as Metz, Arras and Strasbourg. Foremost amongst them were the Vandals and their search for a new homeland took them on the most remarkable odyssey. The Romans were unable to stop them and their closest allies, the Alans, marching the breadth of Gaul, crossing the Pyrenees and making themselves masters of Spain. However, this Kingdom of the Vandals and Alans soon came under intense pressure from Rome's Visigothic allies. In 429, under their new king, Gaiseric, they crossed the straits of Gibraltar to North Africa. They quickly overran this rich Roman province and established a stable kingdom. Taking to the seas they soon dominated the Western Mediterranean and raided Italy, famously sacking Rome itself in 455. Eventually, however, they were utterly conquered by Belisarius in 533 and vanished from history. Simon MacDowall narrates and analyses these events, with particular focus on the evolution of Vandal armies and warfare.
Simon MacDowall was born in England but from the age of 10 grew up in Canada. He joined the Canadian army, trained as an officer and saw active service with the UN in Honduras and Nicuragua and with NATO in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. In 1994 he was the UN spokesman in Sarajevo. He later worked for NATO as a civilian before joining the UK civil service, where he has been Communications Manager for several departments, including the MOD and HMRC. In his spare time he is a keen wargamer and military historian, with six previous books to his name.