John Keegan, the Face of War

801 WordsApr 14, 20064 Pages
John Keegan, The Face of War As Keegan notes how battle is considered - from the movement of platoons to grand imperial strategy - the true question behind this book appears: what happens to the soldier in war? I recommend the first chapter to anyone who is either planning to, or already pursuing, a career in history, because Keegan swiftly and surely examines the different methods, techniques and materials of military history, details which would normally fill a specialised text. This is one of the most accessible looks at how history, and specifically military history, is written (if only someone had suggested I read it as a student), but it won 't enrapture everyone, probably not even a majority of readers. Fortunately, you can…show more content…
Given that the battles are so well known, Keegan 's work on each in this limited volume was never going to be truly groundbreaking, but that isn 't really the point. Instead, the models, methods and approaches presented in The Face of Battle represent the start of the debate, the author 's attempts to examine and introduce a new - or at least revitalised - way of treating combat. As such, Keegan maintains a deliberately inconclusive stance, simply probing many of the possibilities. Some readers may find this unsatisfactory, especially if they want to know the full breadth of answers, but they will need more modern texts for that (assuming we really do know the 'answers '.) Keegan may present little in the way of contextual information on each battle - the reader is left to slot each one into its relevant timezone - but the battles, chosen presumably because they are already well-known, are simply the vehicles through which the ideas are conveyed. The results are, nearly thirty years later, still wholly valid and required reading for anyone who ever wishes to hold an opinion on conflicts. Having spent several hundred pages on three battles, Keegan attempts much more in his final chapter where he tries to summarise World War 2 in a few pages, once again looking at the motives of the combatants. Unfortunately he falls short, giving himself far less room than required - why not a fourth examination? Indeed, the

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