Fields of Battle: The Wars for North Americaby John Keegan
At once a grand tour of the battlefields of North America and an unabashedly personal tribute to the military prowess of an essentially unwarlike people, Fields of Battle spans more than two centuries and the expanse of a continent to show how the immense spaces of North America shaped the wars that were fought on its soil. of photos.
A self-confessed Americanophile (he begins and ends his account with the words "I love America"), Keegan eloquently writes of his deep feelings of affection for the nation and its people, of his first impressions of the transatlantic allies as a youth in WW II England, of his trips through the America of the 1950s and the very different country of the 1970s, and of his thoughts on certain unique qualities of American thought and character. Keegan offers little in the way of a unified historical theme or argument for his disparate observations on America. Instead, his account of American forts and battlefields seems to have more in common with the excellent English tradition of travel writing, a genre spiced with deep historical learning and insight. Keegan selects a broad range of battlefields, from the sites of the French and Indian Wars through the fortresses of the Revolution and the Civil War, to the battlefields of the Indian Wars of the western plains. In each case Keegan shows how geographycommand of key rivers and other waterways and access to natural resourcesdictated the course of the war. Keegan ends his American odyssey in Kitty Hawk, N.C., and meditates on the Wright brothers' achievement there, which presaged the aeronautical technology that would dominate war and travel in the 20th century.
Fans of Keegan, aficionados of American military history, and Americanophiles of all kinds will delight in this learned, affectionate, and highly personal look at our peace-loving nation and its warlike history.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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- Random House
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I bought this book at a booksigning in Chicago where I meet the single greatest military historian alive today. There are some who would call this work unscholarly, non-factual. Those that do make this criticism lack the understanding that history can be fun, comprehensible, readable, as well as informative. The easy, informal style(a big departure for Keegan) must be a shock to those historians who disguise their lack of originality and understanding with a mass of jargon and prose that is dense and leaden. Keegan brings forth a fascinating discussion of the intertwining of strategy and geography in North America. Whether one accepts the thesis or not, one cannot doubt or criticize the informal, yet thoroughly critical and scholarly way he presents it.