12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: 'THE FACE OF BATTLE: A STUDY OF AGINCOURT, WATERLOO AND THE SOMME' (Paperback)
John Keegan has written many books about the conduct and outcome of wars. In this, he focuses on the question: what is it like to be in a battle? Why do studies show that even at the height of a battle, typically no more than one in four soldiers ever fire their gun? And why, on the other hand, do so few soldiers run away?
To answer the questions, he studies three different battles, representing three different types of combat: the hand-to-hand combat of Agincourt, the single-shot guns of Waterloo, and the mechanised destruction of the Somme. He talks about the kind of men who found themselves in each battle and the kind of experiences they had. You learn about the overwhelming noise of Waterloo, about how the raw recruits of Kitchener's army made it necessary to rely on artillery barrages to win the Somme, about the technical miscalculations that made this strategy go desperately wrong.
It's striking and moving, and unlike any other book about battle -- Victor Davis Hanson's recent "Carnage and Culture" does almost as good a job of capturing the experience of battle, but without the same level of compassion. Recommended.