The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme

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Overview

Military historian John Keegan?s groundbreaking analysis of combat and warfare

The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at the "point of maximum danger." Without the myth-making elements of rhetoric and xenophobia, and breaking away from the stylized format of battle descriptions, John Keegan has written what is probably the definitive model for military historians. And in his ...

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The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme

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Overview

Military historian John Keegan’s groundbreaking analysis of combat and warfare

The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at the "point of maximum danger." Without the myth-making elements of rhetoric and xenophobia, and breaking away from the stylized format of battle descriptions, John Keegan has written what is probably the definitive model for military historians. And in his scrupulous reassessment of three battles representative of three different time periods, he manages to convey what the experience of combat meant for the participants, whether they were facing the arrow cloud at the battle of Agincourt, the musket balls at Waterloo, or the steel rain of the Somme.

“The best military historian of our generation.” –Tom Clancy

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time"
—C.P. Snow

"In this book, which is so creative, so original, one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle."
—J.H. Plumb, The New York Times Book Review

"This without any doubt is one of the half-dozen best books on warfare to appear in the English language since the end of the Second World War."
—Michael Howard, The Sunday Times

"A totally original and brilliant book"
The New York Review of Books

From the Publisher

"The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time"
—C.P. Snow

"In this book, which is so creative, so original, one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle."
—J.H. Plumb, The New York Times Book Review

"This without any doubt is one of the half-dozen best books on warfare to appear in the English language since the end of the Second World War."
—Michael Howard, The Sunday Times

"A totally original and brilliant book"
The New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140048971
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 1/28/1983
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 93,694
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan (1934–2012), was one of the most distinguished contemporary military historians and was for many years the senior lecturer at Sandhurst (the British Royal Military Academy) and the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London). Keegan was the author of numerous books including The Face of Battle, The Mask of Command, The Price of Admiralty, Six Armies in Normandy, and The Second World War, and was a fellow at the Royal Society of Literature.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Chapter I: Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things

A Little Learning
The Usefulness of Military History
The Deficiencies of Military History
The "Battle Piece"
"Killing No Murder?"
The History of Military History
The Narrative Tradition
Verdict or Truth?

Chapter 2: Agincourt, 25 October 1415

The Campaign
The Battle
Archers versus Infantry and Cavalry
Cavalry versus Infantry
Infantry versus Infantry
The Killing of the Prisoners
The Wounded
The Will to Combat

Chapter 3: Waterloo, 18 June 1815

The Campaign
The Personal Angle of Vision
The Physical Circumstances of Battle
Categories of Combat
Single Combat
Cavalry versus Cavalry
Cavalry versus Artillery
Cavalry versus Infantry
Artillery versus Infantry
Infantry versus Infantry
Disintegration
The Wounded

Chapter 4: The Somme, 1 July 1916

The Battlefield
The Plan
The Preparations
The Army
The Tactics
The Bombardment
The Final Preliminaries
The Battle
Infantry versus Machine-Gunners
Infantry versus Infantry
The View from across No-Man's-Land
The Wounded
The Will to Combat
Commemoration

Chapter 5: The Future of Battle

The Moving Battlefield
The Nature of Battle
The Trend of Battle
The Inhuman Face of War
The Abolition of Battle

Bibliography

Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2000

    Difficult Read

    This is a good book, however, you often need a dictionary or english textbook handy to comprehend the text. It is definatley not a book to read while the TV or kids are cluttering your background. I often found myself reading the paragraphs several times to gain the intended understanding. Yet, all these negative statements aside, I do feel like a better educated individual after reading it. I believe I have a much better grip on the occurances of the 3 battles highlighted as well as how the details of these battles can be applied as rule to all military engagements.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Forty-odd years after this book was written it still seems timel

    Forty-odd years after this book was written it still seems timely. As we watch the U.S. armed forces cracking under the strain of multiple conflicts, Keegan's conclusions about battle stress seem eerily prescient. Have Army planners ignored the studies done during WWII about battle exhaustion and soldiers' breakdown? Apparently so. As I write this a US soldier has just massacred over a dozen Afghan civilians on his fourth deployment. The Face of Battle is a fascinating and moving study of men facing death and the methods they use to cope with the terror of that experience.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

    Keegan isn't all that stirring

    I have read other books by Mr. Keegan. I don't find him particularly exciting to read. I do find his information good, and he does give me additional perspective on the issues he writes about.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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