Synopses & Reviews
In North America geography has shaped the course of military history as it has nowhere else in the world. Our vast interior spaces, huge mountain ranges, extensive river systems, and boundless prairies have determined each critical conflict for control of the continent.
Guided by this central insight, the acclaimed military historian John Keegan takes us on a tour of every major fortification and scene of battle in North America, from the arrival of the Europeans in the sixteenth century to the final defeat of the native American population in the nineteenth. He shows how the unique character of the American terrain and climate, and the inevitable competition for the land's wealth of natural resources, dictated why men fortified where they did, campaigned as they did, and were drawn to those battlefields Yorktown, Gettysburg, Bull Run, to mention only a few whose names are now part of our mythology.
Drawing upon more than thirty years of experience researching and writing about warfare throughout recorded time, Keegan brings his unique understanding to bear on all the famed engagements of our military history, including Wolfe's victory over Montcalm at Quebec, the legendary battles of the Revolutionary War (as Keegan explains, Washington knew particularly well how to use space and distance), and, of course, the colossal campaigns of the Civil War. An important theme of this book concerns how the war-making assumptions of the Old World met conditions in the New, and so Keegan concludes his narrative with an apt twist: he recalls the arrival of troops from the United States and Canada to save his native Britain and liberate France from German domination during World War II.
"Keegan poignantly weaves personal reflections and historical analysis together in an insightful, oddly charming account of the relationship between America's landscapes and the wars that have taken place on our continent." Kirkus Reviews
"It's difficult to imagine a more eloquent thanks than this gracious book, artful and filled with surprises, that explains to Americans their country and their past and reaffirms...the enduring strengths of American culture." Pauline Maier, The New York Times Book Review
"[Keegan] rises to eloquence often, and I was deeply moved more than once by his ability to bring an uncanny sense of reality to a moment from the past....No one writes about war with greater skill and authority..." T. H. Watkins, The Washington Post Book World
"[A] charming, readable, and informative book, a pleasant diversion for anyone, not only military history buffs....Fields of Battle illustrates that military writing need not be just grim and purposeful; it can be literary as well." John Eisenhower, Philadelphia Inquirer
"[A]n unusually intimate work that fails to persuade wholly....[Some] banalities diminish a work that offers fresh views but that in any case is best approached with caution." Publishers Weekly
"[U]northodox and impressive....Observing together the past and present and the timelessness of geography, Keegan renders the fights over America in constantly surprising fashion fascinating to any history buff." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
"[Keegan's] work allows us to rediscover our military heritage from a lively new perspective, with the matchless insight for which he is renowned. Highly recommended." Library Journal
At once a grand tour of the battlefields of North America and an unabashedly personal tribute to the military prowess of an essentially unwarlike people, Fields of Battle spans more than two centuries and the expanse of a continent to show how the immense spaces of North America shaped the wars that were fought on its soil. Photos.
A definitive survey of the military history of North America explains how geography has shaped America's military heritage and discusses every major fortification and battle site on the continent.
About the Author
John Keegan's books include The First World War, The Battle for History, The Face of Battle, War and Our World, The Mask of Command, Fields of Battle, and A History of Warfare. He is the defense editor of The Daily Telegraph (London). He lives in Wiltshire, England.