On Infantry / Edition 1by John A. English, Bruce I. Gudmundsson
Pub. Date: 01/01/1994
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Another volume in Praeger's The Military Profession series, this revised edition of the 1984 Praeger classic tells the story of infantry in the 20th century and its impact on the major conflicts of our time. Its purpose is to provide the reader--whether infantryman or not--with hitherto unavailable insights on the role that infantry plays in the larger battle and how that has helped shape the world that we live in today. Unique aspects of the book include the treatment of technical issues in non-technical language, the extensive use of German and French sources generally unavailable to the English-speaking reader, and the shattering of some long-cherished myths. Combat motivation and combat refusal, the role played by small units (such as the squad and fire team), the role of infantry in the Blitzkrieg, and many other issues often papered over in the literature of infantry are discussed and analyzed in detail in this revised edition.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Revised Edition
The Open Order Revolution
The Grip of Hiram Maxim
A Fork in the Road
Fair Weather War
Stalin's Hammer, Hitler's Anvil
The Cutting Edge of Battle
A Corporal's Guard
East of Suez, West of Pearl
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have read this book twice. Once as an Army artillery lieutenant around 1999 and once in 2008, after twice deploying to Iraq. The first time, I learned quite a lot from it on how maneuver had developed alongside my own area of interest--I'd just finished his book 'On Artillery'. As a novice in military science, I found the book accessible and added it to my library where it sat for years. Recently I read this book again and can classify my learning points in two categories: (1) things I didn't realize I'd learned the first time I'd read this book and (2) things that fit well with my expanding understanding of combined-arms. I could definitely see the connection between the lessons examined and present developments. God bless my infantry brethren! This book is accessible to the novice and informative to the journeyman. I've also seen it on the USMC Commandant's reading list.
This is one of a series of surveys by Bruce Gudmundsson on different combat arms. (This book also has John English as a co-author.) As always, Gudmundsson's books are informative and delightfully easy to read. In this book the authors examine the evolution of infantry tactics resulting from the massive increase in firepower as muskets gave way to rifles and then to automatic weapons, in addition to the vast array of supplementary infantry weapons (i.e. grenades, anti-tank weapons, mortars, etc.). They start off by looking at the effects of dispersing troops in open order to mitigate casualties and different armies' responses to this organizational and mental requirement. As the machine gun speedily became ubiquitous early on in World War I, some armies adjusted rapidly and easily, such as the Germans, while others lagged behind, e.g. British, Americans. English and Gudmundsson examine and compare the tactical infantry doctrines and small-unit organizations of the French, German, Russian, British, Japanese and American armies of World War II. Also examined are the Chinese Army from the Korean War and the Vietnam-era American army. In each case, they utilize real battlefield examples to demonstrate how this doctrine was actually put into practice, how effective the chosen tactics were, and their strengths and weaknesses (e.g. the American army's reliance on firepower instead of expert technique). They also examine the importance of psychological conditioning in preparing infantry soldiers for 'the emptiness of the battlefield'. The concluding chapter then briefly examines how different modern armies have organized their infantry arms, e.g. by reducing mechanization & heavy equipment. This was a great survey on infantry organization and tactical doctrine. I highly recommend it as a brief introduction to the infantry arm. A more detailed study by Gudmundsson of the evolution of small-unit tactics can be found in 'Stormtroop Tactics'.