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The Face of Battle


The Face of Battle Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Military historian John Keegan’s groundbreaking analysis of combat and warfare

The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at the "point of maximum danger." Without the myth-making elements of rhetoric and xenophobia, and breaking away from the stylized format of battle descriptions, John Keegan has written what is probably the definitive model for military historians. And in his scrupulous reassessment of three battles representative of three different time periods, he manages to convey what the experience of combat meant for the participants, whether they were facing the arrow cloud at the battle of Agincourt, the musket balls at Waterloo, or the steel rain of the Somme.

“The best military historian of our generation.” –Tom Clancy


Keegan, a senior instructor at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, speculates as to what soldiers present at such historic military engagements as Agincourt and Waterloo may have experienced.

About the Author

Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan (1934–2012), was one of the most distinguished contemporary military historians and was for many years the senior lecturer at Sandhurst (the British Royal Military Academy) and the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London). Keegan was the author of numerous books including The Face of Battle, The Mask of Command, The Price of Admiralty, Six Armies in Normandy, and The Second World War, and was a fellow at the Royal Society of Literature.

Table of Contents


Chapter I: Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things

A Little Learning

The Usefulness of Military History

The Deficiencies of Military History

The "Battle Piece"

"Killing No Murder?"

The History of Military History

The Narrative Tradition

Verdict or Truth?

Chapter 2: Agincourt, 25 October 1415

The Campaign

The Battle

Archers versus Infantry and Cavalry

Cavalry versus Infantry

Infantry versus Infantry

The Killing of the Prisoners

The Wounded

The Will to Combat

Chapter 3: Waterloo, 18 June 1815

The Campaign

The Personal Angle of Vision

The Physical Circumstances of Battle

Categories of Combat

Single Combat

Cavalry versus Cavalry

Cavalry versus Artillery

Cavalry versus Infantry

Artillery versus Infantry

Infantry versus Infantry


The Wounded

Chapter 4: The Somme, 1 July 1916

The Battlefield

The Plan

The Preparations

The Army

The Tactics

The Bombardment

The Final Preliminaries

The Battle

Infantry versus Machine-Gunners

Infantry versus Infantry

The View from across No-Man's-Land

The Wounded

The Will to Combat


Chapter 5: The Future of Battle

The Moving Battlefield

The Nature of Battle

The Trend of Battle

The Inhuman Face of War

The Abolition of Battle



Product Details

Keegan, John
Penguin Books
Harmondsworth :
Military - Strategy
Military - General
Military art and science
Military history
Special Interest - Adventure
Military-General History
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
no. 30
Publication Date:
January 1983
Grade Level:
from 12
7.73x5.06x.75 in. .58 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » General
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Military » Strategy Tactics and Deception
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance

The Face of Battle Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Penguin Books - English 9780140048971 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Keegan, a senior instructor at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, speculates as to what soldiers present at such historic military engagements as Agincourt and Waterloo may have experienced.

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