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ISBN:0670304328
Author: John Keegan
ISBN13: 978-0670304325
Title: The Face of Battle
Format: lit mobi mbr lrf
ePUB size: 1216 kb
FB2 size: 1334 kb
DJVU size: 1957 kb
Language: English
Publisher: Viking Press; 1st edition (November 11, 1976)
Pages: 354

The Face of Battle by John Keegan



A page featuring selected quotes from this landmark military history book from 1976 on the reality of battle across the centuries, focusing on Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme. The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time. The book sets out to show what battles have really looked like. The result is utterly authentic. CP Snow, "The Financial Times".

The Face of Battle is a 1976 non-fiction book on military history by the English military historian John Keegan. It deals first with the structure of historical writing about battles, the strengths and weaknesses of the "battle piece," and then with the structure of warfare in three time periods-medieval Europe, the Napoleonic Era, and World War I-by analyzing three battles: Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, all of which involved English soldiers and occurred in approximately the same geographical area.

About The Face of Battle. Master 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. In this book, which is so creative, so original, one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle.

I still think that the The Face of Battle is an excellent book. I have modified my opinion of Keegan as a historian somewhat though. I think he is somewhat overrated and he tends to simplistic British-centric judgements in his analysis of military history. Keegan jumps four hundred years of history to his next battle description, that of Waterloo between the Allied armies and the French under Napoleon on June 18, 1815. Waterloo was the culminating battle of over twenty years of continental warfare dating to the French revolution in 1789, it was to define an age and usher in era of European peace that would last for fifty years. His treatment of the Battle of Waterloo is roughly the same as his treatment of Agincourt though here he distinguishes between more weapon types than were present at Agincourt.

Bibliography: p. -343. Old, unhappy, far-off things - Agincourt, October 25, 1415 - Waterloo, June 18th, 1815 - The Somme, July 1st, 1916 - The future of battle. The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at 'the point of maximum danger'. It examines the physical conditions of fighting, the particular emotions and behaviour generated by battle, as well as the motives that impel soldiers to stand and fight rather than run away.

See a Problem? We’d love your help. Details (if other): Cancel. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Why did they let the attack go on? why did they not stop one battalion following in the wake of another to join it in death? ― John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme.

Categories: Non Fiction. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them. 1. The Fatal Shore, The Epic of Australia's Founding. File: EPUB, . 6 MB. 2.

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. 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.

The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. Download (pdf, . 8 Mb) Donate Read. Epub FB2 mobi txt RTF. Converted file can differ from the original. If possible, download the file in its original format. Комментарии отключены.

Instead of re-defining Professor Keegan's description, I think the 'battles' that he chooses to focus on are indicative themselves of the term as he uses it: Agincourt, Waterloo, and The Somme.

Keegan, John, Face Of Battle, The
Reviews: 7
sunrise bird
I purchased this book because I read in an interview that Bernard Cornwell found it useful in his research. And I can see why: John Keegan's analysis of the battlefield is unlike anything I ever read before. He essentially brings us down to the eye-witness level of fighting, and his explanations give us an understanding of battlefields that cannot be grasped when looking at broad strokes.

This book covers much territory—too much for most general enthusiasts to grasp. The first part is theory, exploring the concept of Military History. The second part covers the Battle of Agincourt, the third part gives us an extensive view of Waterloo, the fourth part illustrates The Somme, and the last part discusses the Future of Battle. I admit that I got bogged down during WWI, for my interest is in earlier centuries; so I only read about 3/4 of the book.

My primary interest was in Agincourt and Waterloo. First he gives us the outline of the each battle, then he breaks it into a sequence of events and shows how the various divisions interacted with the other side (Archers vs. Infantry, Cavalry vs. Infantry and so on). I found the Agincourt chapter most instructive, though it was predominately, and necessarily, built from conjecture. I have always had my doubts that the French army was wiped out by the arrows in the initial charge, as the quick-and-dirty renditions often imply. Keegan reinforces my suspicions, for he states that in the opening volley, "Four clouds of arrows would have streaked out of the English line to reach a height of 100 feet before turning in flight to plunge at a steeper angle on and among the French men-at-arms opposite. These arrows cannot, however, given their terminal velocity and angle of impact, have done a great deal of harm...For armour, by the early fifteenth century, was composed almost completely of steel sheet, in place of the iron mail..."

He theorized the archers hammered steaks in the ground, not as is often thought, in a straight line like a fence, but rather "disposed checkerboard fashion" so that "we may then visualize the French bearing down on the archers in ignorance of the hedgehog their ranks concealed." With this in mind, it's easier to imagine the chaos on the front line once the horses “found themselves on top of the stakes too late to refuse the obstacle”. Repelled, the cavalry returned into the face of the approaching men-at-arms, where it “broke up the rhythm of the advance and knocked some men to the ground”. The crunch kept coming from behind, and the “unrelenting pressure from the rear on the backs of those in the line of battle” combined with a lack of organized command gave the English archers the opportunity to charge with swords, axes and hand-weapons. Keegan gives us a convincing description of the slaughter demonstrating the effectiveness of hand-to-hand fighting against an enemy “who were plainly in no state to offer concerted resistance and scarcely able to defend themselves individually”. This is a more balanced depiction of a battle where archery, though still important, was not the only means of success.

Then we abruptly jump ahead 400 years to a battle of a scale unimagined in the middle ages. Waterloo was so huge that one battalion had no clue of what another battalion was doing across the field. “The ‘five phases’ of the battle were not perceived at the time by any of the combatants, not even, despite their points of vantage and powers of direct intervention in events, by Wellington or Napoleon.” Again, we get the general overview, then shift to a comparison of Cavalry vs. Artillery, Artillery vs. Infantry, Infantry vs. Infantry and whatever combinations you could think of. To me, it both helped and hindered a total understanding of this complicated battle. To make it more personal, we get a dizzying compilation of first-hand reports that pinpoints individual experiences. In the process, I felt completely lost, which I guess is much to the point.

I was intrigued by the concept of the crowd-like behavior of soldiers who could only react to what they were hearing in the front lines, especially in the French columns. “The men at the rear did nothing, or did nothing useful. Indeed, it seems safe to go further. It was at the back of the columns, not the front, that the collapse began, and the men in the rear who ran before those in the front.” It was this behavior, according to the author, “rather than direct British action, that rendered useless the most critical French attacks of the day, and led to Napoleon’s defeat.” Apparently the British squares were more successful and felt safer, for the wounded could be dragged into the center; it was also more difficult for the weaker soldiers to flee.

The Somme, the discussion of which seemed more familiar to the author, relied on trench warfare, a horrific way to fight a battle. The poor infantry were obliged to follow the line of destruction laid down by the artillery, unaware that much of the noisy, explosive shells were ineffectual due to the fact that the Germans were sheltered in holes dug well below the range of the bombardments. Also, the detonations did little to remove the barbed wire which slowed many Allies down enough to get mowed down in their efforts to cut their way through. This, added to lack of communication, contributed to a casualty rate almost inconceivable to the armchair historian.

Overall, though the writing was difficult to plow through, I absorbed a lot of helpful information. My own interest in military history was not up to the task, and I could not do this book justice. But it is a great reference, though it would be much better appreciated when familiar with the subject matter ahead of time.
Goltigor
The late John Keegan, who was the senior military history lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, for years. wrote this book as a historical exploration of three key battles. He showed how terrain, the commanders' personalities, the politics of the eras involved, and the mindset and preparation of the fighting men all contributed to the outcome of these engagements. The three battles Keegan analyzes are Agincourt in 1415, Waterloo in 1815, and the Somme in 1916. All of the these engagements were fought in a geographical area encompassing northern France and western Belgium, a region fought over for centuries.
The book also discusses other variables and compares the experience and training of military officers in the late 20th century industrialized nations, keying in mostly on the UK. Agincourt, in the late Medieval period, was a major English victory over a French army which greatly outnumbered the force commanded by the young English King Henry V.
Waterloo, fought in Belgium, was an Anglo-Prussian victory over the resurgence of Napoleon Bonaparte, who'd returned to France after being exiled on Elba.
The Battle of the Somme, fought in 1916 in the region of the river of the same name in northern France, was a massive British offensive in World War I which lasted two months. Its first day in July of 1916 has been called the bloodiest day in British military history.
John Keegan explored factors which were not well-covered, if mentioned at all, in most military history accounts of battles and campaigns.
THE FACE OF BATTLE is a good book for people who want to know how battles flow and how certain variables can cause victory or defeat.
GWEZJ
In THE FACE OF BATTLE, author John Keegan, in his role as historian and not soldier, attempts to dissect the experience of battle as the common soldier knows it. The trouble with most accounts, he explains at length in his opening chapters, is that historians tend to focus on the win/lose aspects of the battle, or else how its outcome has affected the course of human events, or else been enamored with its pageantry and its place in the popular imagination. As an educator of young cadets who would someday be British officers, he found these methods inadequate; and, it would seem, motivated by his own lack of experience IN battle while teaching ABOUT battle, he sought to reach a different level of discourse about the process.

Along with his lengthy opening concerning how battles are traditionally recorded, he also seeks to define what he means specifically by the word 'battle'. Rather than the generic descriptor, he is referring to particular events, possible within a larger framework of warfare, in which the set conditions are fairly narrowly confined. Instead of re-defining Professor Keegan's description, I think the 'battles' that he chooses to focus on are indicative themselves of the term as he uses it: Agincourt, Waterloo, and The Somme.

Once these preliminary discussions are out of the way, Professor Keegan begins his disection of the three battles mentioned, and I doubt I have ever read a more fascinating account of warfare. While the general course of the contest is first described, what follows is an examination of what an individual may have experienced, reasonable suppositions as to why they men may have behaved as they did, and a breakdown of the different weaponry systems as they were deployed against one another. In many ways, I'm reminded of the old rhyme, 'for want of a nail, the battle was lost', since essentially what Professor Keegan is examining is the 'nails'. It may make great theater to hear Henry inspire his men with the St. Crispin's Day speech, but how exactly did an outnumbered and bedraggled English army slaughter the French in 1415 to the point there were 'heaps of dead'? How exactly were Napoleon's cavalry attacks repulsed by the infantry? And, a question I've always wondered myself, exactly what could have propelled a man up and out of the trench to walk into the machine-guns of No-Man's-Land? These and many other questions are examined, and one has to agree (finally!) with a blurb that decorates the cover of the paperback edition - 'one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle.'

Over the years, as I have read more traditional account of battles, there often seem to be downright unexplainable factors that influence the outcome - bravery in one individual, cowardice in another, weapons that had once been effective, but no longer were, and on and on. Professor Keegan is intensely interested in these factors - in fact, that is the whole theme of his historiography: To seek explanation for what has before seemed nearly impenetrable.

There are two sections of THE FACE OF BATTLE which bookend the description of the three battles; one, an introductory section which seeks to explain the author's motivation and ideas behind the book, and then a concluding chapter - 'The Future of Battle'. The first is necessary, I think, though overlong. I found the second to be disinteresting - written in 1976, it suffers the same problems most attempts to look at the future do. Regardless of these two issues, the meat of the book is a transformative look at warfare and the actions of those involved in it. It is by far the most truthful look at the process that I have read, tallying neatly with my own experiences.

I do not think it necessary to agree with Professor Keegan's analysis or all his comments to appreciate this effort. It is his revolutionary way of looking at the events which rightly place this book on the top lists of non-fiction of the twentieth century. Highly recommended

(Professor Keegan passed away in August of this year)