In A.D. 9, a traitor from the Roman military named Arminius led an army of barbarians who trapped, and then ferociously butchered, three entire Roman legions, a quarter of the Roman army stationed north of the Alps. It was a blow from which the empire never recovered. If not for that battle, the Roman Empire might have extended as far as present-day Russia. However, after this disaster, the demoralized Romans ended their efforts to push beyond the Rhine, which remains to this day the cultural border between Latin Western Europe and Germanic Central Europe. Wells describes life within the magnificent city of Rome and on the Roman frontier, puts a human face on the barbarians of lore, and leads the reader through the mud, blood and slaughter that was the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.--From publisher description.