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The Mask of Command Paperback – October 4, 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
Four chapters on "heroic" military leadership (in the broadest sense of the word)Alexander the Great, Wellington, U.S. Grant and Hitlerlead up to what PW called a "masterful closing argument warning that in the nuclear age heroic leadership of any style would lead to the destruction of civilization." Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Keegan ( The Face of Battle, Six Armies in Normandy) turns his attention to command. He interprets generalship as manifesting a cultural urge to conquer. Its classical example is the heroic warrior, personified by Alexander the Great, who inextricably merged identity with performance. Subsequently, the bureaucratic state, democracy, technology, etc., subsumed the heroic leader. The 20th-century re-evoked the heroic principle, but it manifested itself in the false heroism of an Adolf Hitler. Keegan concludes by appealing for post-heroic leaders who will forswear conflict. Though Keegan's structure and models are open to challenge, this provocative book nevertheless deserves reading by any student of military affairs.Dennis Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Concise and well written, "The Mask of Command" offers fascinating insights into military leadership over the ages. Keegan is always worth reading and this work is one of his best.
As other reviewers have stated perhaps the most interesting narrative was Hitler's. My area of interest does not usually fall to the World Wars, as I much prefer to learn about antiquity, but I found his to be the most enlightening and informative. It was refreshing also to learn about Hitler in his downtime, something I know is studied but have not really come across myself, and how he commanded the military of Germany. The idea that culture affects military actions is not an entirely new concept, even at the publishing of this book several decades ago, but it is one that many non-historians don't often think about. Getting specific examples of this is very enlightening. Also, I felt that of Keegan's books that I have read (Face of Battle and History of Warfare with plans to read many more) this is the most accesible and perhaps useful to those who arn't military buffs.
Four historical figures are chosen as examples for this study; we may dissent with the choice. I'm sure every reader will have a different list, if forced to select four characters among the enormous list of suitable candidates.
Each Commander is presented in his historical background: political and social circumstances; his staff and soldiers, his ideals and goals, his methods and resources.
Then each one is compared and confronted with the other subjects.
Here is where Mr. Keegan displays a very imaginative and didactical approach.
A deep insight into the commandeering skills of these forceful characters, separated in time and space, but very close to each other in the quests they have to solve.
A great book to be sure!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.