I first read Keegan's Face of Battle when it was published. His descriptions of the life of the
man on the front lines was both shocking and compelling.
Covering the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme (they all took place within a short distance of each other), he describes the similarities and differences of war thru the ages. I've anxiously awaited each of his following books and have never been disappointed. In Price of Admiralty, he does for naval warfare what he did for the infantry in Face of Battle. Mask of Command studies great commanders throughout history (including Grant and Hitler with Wellington and Alexander begs to be debated and studied).
Intelligence in War his latest - examines the effects of
intelliegence on battles stretching from Nelson to the Gulf War
- The Second World War
The best single volume study of the war available -- comparable to
McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom for the
Civil War. Yet it never becomes merely a narrative. In each section Keegan focuses on personalities, strategies and historical problems, offering many new insights and challenging preconceptions.
From Publishers Weekly
This account of WW II, though controversial, is rich in fresh perception,
interpretation and opinion. In addition to penning a fast-paced campaign
chronicle, Keegan ( The Mask of Command ) makes a convincing case for the
prime motivations of Allied and Axis leaders, pinpoints the practical results
of Allied summit conferences and defines the war's geopolitical dimensions. He
maintains that Stalin's purge of the Soviet high command was beneficial in
certain respects, and explains why Guadalcanal was a cheap victory for the
U.S. Keegan argues that Churchill's hope that resistance forces would "set
ablaze" Europe was a romantic notion, and that the British "descended to the
enemy's level" in the strategic bombing of Germany. Most provocative are his
comments on Roosevelt: while many historians would agree that FDR was the most
enigmatic of the war's major figures, few will concur that his policies were
"profoundly ambiguous." Photos. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In contrast to Martin Gilbert's broader The Second World War ( reviewed in
this issue, p.101), Keegan's work is more a battle campaign. His strength as a
military historian ( The Face of Battle, The Price of Admiralty ) is in his
ability to synthesize the order of battle without getting bogged down in
minutae. The mighty German-Russian struggles are well covered, as is the war
in the Pacific. While Robert Leckie's Delivered from Evil: The Saga of World
War II ( LJ 9/1/87) is nearly twice as long as Keegan's book, integrates
biographical material into the narrative, and is less analytical than
Keegan's, Keegan's is extremely well written; the reader can almost visualize
the movement of an army without looking at the maps. On another level,
however, Keegan tends to be simplistic (e.g., in his discussion of the causes
of World War II, in his view that the war would have come even without Hitler)
and skim over many topics. Nevertheless, academic and larger public libraries
will find this in demand. Recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/89.
- Robert Jordan, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City
- The Battle for History : Re-Fighting World War II
The Face of Battle
- Fields of Battle : The Wars for North America
The Price of Admiralty : The Evolution of Naval Warfare
- The Great Battles and Leaders of the Second World War : An Illustrated History Winston S. Churchill, John Keegan
- A History of Warfare
- The Mask of Command
- Who's Who in Military History : From 1453 to the Present Day (Who's Who Series); John Keegan, Andrew Wheatcroft