Thank you down in South Africa

ImageI just became aware of a fantastic podcast about Hannibal and Me from South Africa. I don’t even know when it aired (possibly months ago).


Ian Mann

But now I’ve got this link. (It took a while to load in my browser, but persevere.) The bit about Hannibal and Me is between minutes 47 and 54.

At first, the host makes a slightly goofy segue into the (admittedly prolific) genre of business books about mass murderers from history. But then a management strategist named Ian Mann, of Gateways Business Consultants, comes out swinging for me with humour and verve.

He keeps extolling my alleged “erudition” and then quips that Hannibal and Me is

one of the few Self-Help books that an intelligent adult can read without wrapping it in a brown cover.

He then makes the case why Hannibal and Me is the book to read if you want to understand your career, whether you’re “stuck” (as the host suggests) or at the top of your game, or dealing with disaster.

Recall from my radio interviews a year ago that I was never very good at talking, in sound bite, about my book. Ian Mann is much better at it. Thank you, Ian!

Getting ready for the paperback

Even as reviews are still dribbling out — such as this one from South Africa — my publisher is preparing to launch Hannibal and Me in paperback.

I got an email with the two cover-jacket designs above that they’re choosing between. All that takes me back a year or so, when I first saw the hardcover jacket.

Your aesthetic opinions are welcome, as ever.

Green-to-tee Strategy, and other fun

“For smart, talented, and ambitious people, winning is sometimes so easy that it makes true success elusive. That’s because victories, easily obtained, can obscure the ultimate goal.”

That’s a quote out of Hannibal and Me, Chapter 6, which is about life strategy. It’s also how I open my latest “teaser” post in the Harvard Business Review. It segues, as one does, from Hannibal in 216 BC to Carl von Clausewitz to, yes, Tiger Woods. 😉

It’s all about strategy, you see — about thinking backwards, from the green to the tee, no matter what the life situation happens to be. (Thank you to Ryan D., who suggested this angle last time.)

Meanwhile, Doug Desalles and I had a great chat on his cool radio station in Sacramento, Radio Parallax. It’s about a half hour long, but we really go quite deep towards the end.

Hannibal/Hasdrubal/Mago > Danny/Ben/Sam

It sucks that I can’t watch the Beeb from here in the US. That’s because something fun is on the telly there.

Three brothers — Danny, Ben and Sam Wood — are tracing the route that Hannibal took, from Spain through France and over the Alps into Italy, and thence to Tunisia and perhaps onward. (Here is a map of Hannibal’s lifetime path.)

They’re doing it by bike, instead of elephant.

What does this show? That Hannibal maintains his eerie ability to inspire us modern types today, just as he inspired me to write my book.

“So we also feel a certain sense of ‘Hannibal and Me’,” as Danny, also a journalist, emailed me this week.

If you’re in Britain, follow them on the BBC. And good luck, lads!

Here’s a taste:

Talking with Fiammetta about Hannibal & Me

Fiammetta Rocco

Here is an 8-minute podcast of a chat between Fiammetta Rocco, our Books & Arts editor at The Economist, and me, about Hannibal and Me.

We were all over the place in our actual conversation, but our colleague Lucy Rohr did a Herculean job of editing it down to 8 minutes.

Topics covered: Tiger Woods and Eleanor Roosevelt, in particular, plus some Meriwether Lewis and the rest of the gang. 😉

(And if you want an amusing visual of how I tape these interviews with London, go back to this old post.)

Dylan Ratigan and I, the backstory

So here are my five minutes on MSNBC with Dylan Ratigan.

And here is the backstory:

I had made a beginner’s mistake: Yesterday, I got a bit of redness above my right eye, eczema or something, as I occasionally do. Normally, I ignore it, but today I remembered some cream that my mom had once sent me for exactly this purpose. I fished it out of the closet and rubbed it on. And apparently, I got some in my eye.

Just as I was arriving at the studio, my right eye started gushing tears. Great.

This is what wives are for. So I texted mine, and she texted back, while I was still in the parking lot:

think about Hannibal and his one conjunctivitis eye.

So that’s what I did. I was clutching a Kleenex during the clip, and kept wiping the tears away.

So, not that bad a performance, considering. 😉

Hannibal & Me: The excerpt in

What a very, very strange experience it is to see an excerpt of my own book on a famous website. has just posted exactly that.

Thank you, Salon!

Hannibal and Me: contents & dramatis personae

Here is my table of contents, which gives you a sense of the structure of the book: For the most part we “age with” Hannibal, and also with Scipio, in the main storyline, so that we face the issues that arise at each stage of life.

In bullet points, I’ve put some of the people that come up in each chapter. You can try to figure out the context in which they appear, and why.


  • Hannibal
  • Me
  • (A bit of Carl Jung, tiny bit of Scipio and Fabius)


  • Hamilcar, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, Mago
  • Theseus
  • Barack Obama
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Amy Tan
  • (Gerhard Kluth)


  • Hannibal
  • Meriwether Lewis (and Thomas Jefferson, William Clark)
  • Harry Truman
  • Ludwig Erhard


  • Hannibal
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Paul Cézanne
  • Meriwether Lewis


  • Hannibal
  • Morihei Ueshiba
  • Cleopatra (and Julius Caesar



  • Hannibal (and Sosylus)
  • Carl von Clausewitz
  • Steve Miller and Tiger Woods
  • Cleopatra
  • Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman
  • Pyrrhus and Cineas


  • Quintus Fabius Maximus
  • Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
  • Lance Armstrong
  • Lao Tzu and Sun Tzu
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Ernest Shackleton


  • Hannibal
  • Tennessee Williams
  • Amy Tan
  • Eliot Spitzer
  • Albert Einstein


  • Publius Cornelius Scipio
  • Steve Jobs
  • Eleanor Roosevelt


  • Hannibal and Scipio
  • Carl Jung (and Sigmund Freud)
  • Ernest Shackleton


  • Scipio and Marcus Porcius Cato
  • Ludwig Erhard (and Konrad Adenauer)
  • Liu Shaoqi (and Mao Zedong)


  • Hannibal and Scipio
  • Abraham Maslow
  • Ludwig Erhard
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Albert Einstein


  • All of the above
  • (plus Arjuna)

Hannibal’s lifetime path: the map

Copyright David Lindroth

Look at this beautiful map. It depicts the dramatically simplified life path that Hannibal probably took. And you’ll find it in the beginning of my book.

The mapmaker and copyright owner is David Lindroth, a cartographer who seems to specialize in historical, educational, fictional and other unusually interesting maps.

I first came across David’s name when I saw a different version of this map by him in The Ghosts of Cannae, a great book about Hannibal by Robert O’Connell. (It came out last year, after I finished my manuscript, so it was unfortunately too late to be one of my sources.)

So I called David and he made this map for me. We put in some of the battle sites and other places of interest in the book, including Hannibal’s sketchy meanderings in the eastern Mediterranean in his final years.

Anyway, you know I like maps. Enjoy.

Minard’s map of Hannibal’s crossing

As you know, I love maps, especially historical maps, and I like to play with them to make points.

For instance, in this post, I turned a map of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy upside down to illustrate the arc of his and his enemy’s lives.

And in this post I paid my respects to Charles Minard, a Frenchman who, in the 19th century, launched the field of data visualization by producing a new kind of map — one that graphically as well as geographically shows Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

Now I get an email from one Jonnie Lappen, a senior at Arizona State University who is studying geography and considering doing his honors thesis on a different map by Minard.

I didn’t even know about that map until Jonnie showed it to me. Which is shocking: On it, Minard depicts Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.

If it’s not famous, that’s probably because it is not nearly as good as the Napoleonic map: Minard gives us an angle of the Riviera we’re not used to seeing, and the shrinking line of the Carthaginian army is not as striking as in the Napoleonic map. (Still, look at that Alpine crossing: suddenly the line shrinks by half. That’s a lot of human beings dropping into gorges, slipping off ice sheets, dying of dysentery…)

Anyway, Jonnie is now engrossed in Livy to improve upon this map and give it its proper drama. A great idea. Good luck, Jonnie!