- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (August 4, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0029148510
- ISBN-13: 978-0029148518
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Acts of War: Behavior of Men in Battle 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
In this useful and gripping study, an English military biographer examines the forces which operate upon fighting men in and out of battle. Holmes presents numerous well-organized anecdotes that range from Waterloo to the Falklands, often deliberately blurring the distinction between wars in order to show their common factors. Although the book is drawn exlusively from secondary sources, it contains a wealth of insights useful to professional students. His observations on the role of females in combat zones are timely, if unsurprising to most veterans. As a work of lay psychology, the book surpasses John Ellis's The Sharp End ( LJ 2/15/81). Recommended to most public libraries. History Book Club main selection. Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'... a powerful, thought-provoking picture of how the conditions of war affect a man. His sources are several centuries of warfare and the personal recollections of veterans of conflicts across the world. Holmes presents the results of his ambitious and exhaustive research in a very readable form, carefully balancing fact and emotion, detachment and compassion which adds considerable depth to the wisdom expressed.' ARMOUR (Nov/Dec '03) 'Mr Holmes makes a convincing case that the human being remains the central weapon of military conflict, technology notwithstanding. What emerges is a compelling and very human portrait of war.' THE ECONOMIST (21/2/04) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Like the book jacket reads, it shoud be "must read" for all members of congress.
The author successfully shows that military personnel have mixed feelings about war. Although he addresses behavior in the midst of battle, the author seems more interested in the views about war held by those outside war itself, i.e., those who had not yet experienced it and those who were looking backward in retrospect. How those people felt in the midst of the madness is almost certainly different from how they anticipated or how they adjusted their feelings afterwards. I think this "flavor" derives from his personal-interview-and-historical-research approach. I do not see this as a negative but rather staying within his scope of knowledge and expertise.
The review titled "Flawed work of a historian with no sociological credibility" seems too harshly critical. Perhaps this reviewer expected a highly technical, in-depth psychological approach. As a note: page 58 cites S.L.A. Marshall as stating that only "some 15 per cent of American infantrymen fired." True, the subject of women in the military is barely broached. However, in all fairness, the author never pretends to have extensive knowledge about how women react in battle and simply doesn't go there. Perhaps that is a deficiency of character, but not of the book. I get the feeling that this review didn't find what he wanted and then "skimmed" the book without thinking into what was being presented.
Although now much more interested in peace studies, I enjoyed reading this book. I found a number of passages that shed light on where I have been and where I seek to go. I don't see this as a pro-military book although at times it may seem so. I characterize it as an honest endeavor to address and understand some of the difficult questions that most of us have concerning death and killing in war-time.
I am not an expert in militar books, I just bought this book because I picked it from a shelve and I thought I would like to read something about the subject of human behaviour in war.
I found it deep, well writen and fairly interesiting. I have recommended it to frequent business literature readers and they also loved it and found in it new views of human behaviour under maximum stress circumstances.
From an average man point of view, not expert in militar literature, I think it is a must read.