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

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Overview

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

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Overview

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 of Agincourt, the musket balls at Waterloo, or the steel rain of the Somme.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time.”
–C.P. Snow
From Barnes & Noble
Departing from the conventions of military writing, Keegan ranges across history and through an awesome body of war literature to examine from the perspective of the common soldier three famous battles waged 500 years apart--Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. B&W illus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670304325
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/11/1976
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 20.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 20.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Keegan is the Defence Editor of the Daily Telegraph and Britain’s foremost military historian. The Reith Lecturer in 1998, he is the author of many bestselling books including The Mask of Command, Six Armies in Normandy, Battle at Sea, The Second World War, A History of Warfare (awarded the Duff Cooper Prize), Warpaths, The Battle for History, The First World War, and most recently, Intelligence in War. For many years John Keegan was the Senior Lecturer in Military History at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and he has been a Fellow of Princeton University and Delmas Distinguished Professor of History at Vassar. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He received the OBE in the Gulf War honours list, and was knighted in the Millennium honours list in 1999.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11
Chapter 1 Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things 13
A Little Learning 13
The Usefulness of Military History 20
The Deficiencies of Military History 25
The 'Battle Piece' 35
'Killing No Murder?' 45
The History of Military History 53
The Narrative Tradition 61
Verdict or Truth?' 72
Chapter 2 Agincourt, 25 October 1415 78
The Campaign 78
The Battle 86
Archers versus Infantry and Cavalry 92
Cavalry versus Infantry 94
Infantry versus Infantry 97
The Killing of the Prisoners 108
The Wounded 112
The Will to Combat 114
Chapter 3 Waterloo, 18 June 1815 117
The Campaign 121
The Personal Angle of Vision 128
The Physical Circumstances of Battle 134
Categories of Combat 144
Single Combat 145
Cavalry versus Cavalry 147
Cavalry versus Artillery 151
Cavalry versus Infantry 154
Artillery versus Infantry 160
Infantry versus Infantry 162
Disintegration 195
Aftermath 197
The Wounded 200
Chapter 4 The Somme, 1 July 1916 207
The Battlefield 207
The Plan 213
The Preparations 216
The Army 219
The Tactics 229
The Bombardment 231
The Final Preliminaries 241
The Battle 246
Infantry versus Machine-Gunners 247
Infantry versus Infantry 251
The View from across No-Man's-land 259
The Wounded 268
The Will to Combat 274
Commemoration 285
Chapter 5 The Future of Battle 290
The Moving Battlefield 290
The Nature of Battle 301
The Trend of Battle 303
The Inhuman Face of War 320
The Abolition of Battle 331
Bibliography 345
Index 351
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

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

    1 out of 1 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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • 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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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