A literary analysis of the battle for history by john keegan

A Journal of Mormon Scripture 23 Historical chronicles of military conflict normally focus on the decisions and perspectives of leaders.

A literary analysis of the battle for history by john keegan

It is not concerned with grand strategy or tactics. It does not worry about the rulers and generals who made the decisions and hoarded the laurels. Before we get there, however, Keegan begins with a rather lengthy — and fascinating — chapter on military historiography. This first chapter is more akin to a personal essay than anything else, and opens with a famous hook: The tension is between technical histories and battle narratives.

Or, in my case, that I buy for myself all the time. These narratives are certainly evocative, but as Keegan shows through a variety of excerpts, they can tend towards hyperbole or be used to protect or destroy reputations. As Keegan attempts to find the balance, he is also wrestling with the question of self-justification; that is, seeking reasons why this type of writing is necessary at all.

The bulk of The Face of Battle is made up of discussions about three immortal encounters: During the War of the Five Kings?

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At its best, The Face of Battle approaches some faint idea of how battle must appear to the soldier in its midst. For instance, there is this description of the hand-to-hand combat at Agincourt that captures some of the physical realities of combat: At Agincourt, where the man-at-arms bore lance, sword, dagger, mace or battleaxe, his ability to kill or wound was restricted to the circle centered on his own body, within which his reach allowed him to club, slash or stab.

Prevented by the throng at their backs from dodging, side-stepping or retreating from the blows and thrusts directed at them by their English opponents, the individual French man-at-arms must shortly have begun to lose their man-to-man fights, collecting blows on the head or limbs which, even through armor, were sufficiently bruising or stunning to make them drop their weapons or lose their balance or footing.

Within minutes, perhaps seconds, of hand-to-hand fighting being joined, some of them would have fallen, their bodies lying at the feet of their comrades, further impeding the movement of individuals and thus offering an obstacle to the advance of the whole column.

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This is the kind of through-the-helm view I was hoping for when I picked up this book. And to be sure, Keegan provides them now and again.

He gives, for instance, a gruesomely detailed comparison of the wounds caused by the weapons at Waterloo with the hideously refined methods employed at the Somme.

A literary analysis of the battle for history by john keegan

On the whole, though, I wanted more of the tactile details: I know that Keegan was attempting to break from stylized battle histories, but at times, this felt like a standard military history.

That is, Keegan has a knack for composing a sentence that is filled with stutters and digressions and clauses that loop and wind and pause before finally, blessedly, getting to the point.

A literary analysis of the battle for history by john keegan

This style drove me crazy while reading The First World War. It helps, I think, that Keegan has structured this book so rigidly.

He shows great focus in his writing, with two bookend chapters sandwiching a chapter on each of the three featured battles. Sticking with this format, with minimal digressions, allows for a lot of efficiency.

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Keegan covers a great deal of ground in only pages. Aside from a few moments of existential doubt in his opening essay, he writes authoritatively and with confidence. Keegan does a fine job in analyzing his three picked battles.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 Price: $ 🔥Citing and more!

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Sep 18,  · The Face of Battle Analysis John Keegan. (Literary Masterpieces, Volume 18) The Face of Battle is a military history by John Keegan that describes and assesses three battles in British. Unreflective repetition that a literary analysis of the battle for history by john keegan results in prodigality?

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Pemphigous an analysis of the main . Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan (–), was one of the most distinguished contemporary military historians and was for many years the senior lecturer at Sandhurst (the British Royal Military Academy) and the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London).Keegan was the author of numerous books including The Face of Battle, The Mask of Command, The Price of Admiralty, Six Armies in.

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