- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Viking; First American Edition paperback edition (1987)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000UDTDPU
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,992,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mask of Command Paperback – 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
Alexander - the importance of physical courage, leading at the tip of the spear, and animating a theatrical quality, which inspires the soldiers.
Wellington - still on the front lines, but not leading the charge. Keegan describes Wellington's careful orchestration of the conflict with Napoleon on the fields of Waterloo. He begins to make the case for the impact of technology (gunpowder and muskets) on the general's ability to influence the fight from the front.
Grant - and "unheroic" leadership, as Keegan describes his style. The author praises Grant throughout the narration, especially how the Union General understood the changing nature of war better than most. Keegan cites instances of Grant's bravery (at Palo Alto and elsewhere) and refers favorably to Grant's Memoirs. This praise contrasts with the next case study, that of Hitler.
Hitler - beginning with Hitler's service in World War I, Keegan demonstrates the impact of the Great War on Hitler's leadership style and understanding of war. Keegan highlights Hitler's mistrust of many of his "staff" generals, given his own insight from the front as a messenger during WWI.Read more ›
The text effortless weaves these historical perspectives into a short, concise study of leadership styles and requirements and then presents a clear thesis on leadership in the nuclear age. This thesis is truly terrifying in light of the implications of history; our origins appear to contradict the requirements for future survival. This text is as much a study in leadership and management styles as it is a military science text. It is well written and highly enjoyable. If only we could get Dr. Keegan to add an addendum to leadership in the age of stateless terror.
Take for example the essay on Grant, called "Unheroic Leadership". Analyzed as such because Grant subscribed to the idea of never leading from the front (mainly because leading from the front was both impossible and foolish by the beginning of the America Civil War), Keegan digs into what made Grant an especially fine general. While some of his finds are clever and his psychological assessment of Grant seems to hold water, his understanding of Grant as a particularly adept technocrat who adapted to the changing role of technology in the war is downright wrong.
I direct those of you who are interested in the truth to both Charles Dana's accounts of the civil war and to Lincoln's writings. Both of these men found Grant's use of the telegraph paltry and Lincoln was many times found wanting more information from Grant's camp. Indeed, Keegan assumes that Grant's use of the telegraph was a key ingredient to his unheroic leadership because he harnessed new technology to direct troops appropriately, but this is patently false as Grant despised sending telegraphs to anyone at all. It is much more likely that Keegan was sniffing the right path in declaring Grant as extremely proficient in his ability to surround himself with capable men such as Sherman and McPherson proved to be.
As I said, the careful reader will find quite a few discrepancies and a little digging will result in Keegan getting caught with his pants down, but there is also much to like about the book - just be careful with it because Keegan isn't.
Three stars is a bit harsh, but four stars would be too much. 3 1/2 is about right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sir John Keegan was one of the great military historians of all time, combining a superb writing ability, with deep knowledge and research of the subject of military conflict. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kiwiwriter
Not a bad read for class, interesting takes on some of history's most prominent figures.Published 14 months ago by Ashley
BATTLE DESCRIPTIONS A BIT TOO COMPREHENSIVE, FULL OF OPINIONS.
The writing is intellectually appealing and has a beautiful flow. The content's depth was never compromised, however, and the insights were illuminating.Published on November 19, 2013 by Dawit Aynachew