Let's begin at the beginning, with a book by Jeremy Armstrong that takes us back to the Early Republic, from the sixth to fourth centuries bce, examining the social and political transformations of that period and looking at the very foundation of the Roman state. The challenges of working on this early period are well known. Indeed, Armstrong early on says that he will eschew an overly optimistic, positivistic approach to the later literary account and make use of the substantial archaeological evidence. This archaeological evidence is crucial in drawing up a picture of the social and economic context of early Latium. However, the problematic literary accounts still often appear as rather too unproblematic framing narratives for what follows. Armstrong's account is chronological, taking us, as the title suggests, from the early ‘warlords’ to the military society of the Republic in the wake of the Latin Settlement in 338 bce. What we have here is a properly ambitious attempt to explain this crucial transition – but many problems and questions undoubtedly remain in the study of the early days of the Republic.