TheFaceOfBattle is JohnKeegan?'s attempt to correct what he sees as an oversight in traditional battle narratives: the description of groups of men as units, without paying attention to the psychology of those groups. He traces this tradition to Caesar's famous descriptions of his campaigns in Gaul, noting that Caesar constructed them primarily for political purposes, not to create an accurate history. Keegan takes as a better example Thucydides and his account of the Peloponnesian War. Keegan then proceeds to analyze three famous British battles, Agincourt, Waterloo, and The Somme, from a psychological perspective, emphasizing the perceptions and effects of combat on the soldiers involved in it. I found it fascinating and illuminating material; however, Keegan has a tendency (throughout his books) to veer into what I consider rather specious speculation; here he is no different, and some of his discussions of pyschology strike as highly implausible at best and just plain wrong at the worst. In general, though, I think TheFaceOfBattle accomplishes what he intends it to, serving as a corrective to the traditional battle account and providing a look into a side of war which is not as readily apparent.

FunWiki | RecentChanges | Preferences
Edit text of this page | View other revisions
Last edited May 29, 2001 22:51 (diff)