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02 August 2012


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Six Armies in Normandy is excellent, also.

Hank Foresman



He was great. Now I will go google to remember how many of his books I have enjojed over the years.

I remember one of his conclusions, after many decades as a military historian as to why men fight. It was, because it is in man's nature.


Rest in peace, John Keegan.


I remember that first time I read "The Face of Battle." I picked up a dog-eared copy at used bookstore as I head off for a weekend of work on the farm. I ended up doing precious little work, and quite a bit of reading that weekend.

Goodbye Mr. Keegan.


what do u think of his american civil war viewpoint?

Hank Foresman

Can't comment one way or the other as I have not read it. It is on my read list.



What is his viewpoint? I read one of his early books and then found other things to do. Just looking at him he seems to be someone who would side with the winners and explain his position by the "progress of mankind," "nevitcability of outcome," "stain of slavery,' etc. pl


"The Face of Battle" was his best, I think. I've read many other books of his, some excellent, some just OK, some not.

I think he was out of his depth in his book on the US Civil War: too many factual errors that made me stop before I finished it. He also wrote a book about the Iraq war that approached hagiography of Bush and the US military; only problem was that it was written shortly after the conquest of Baghdad, and didn't really go into the mess that happened afterwards. So it was like a history of the war that concluded where "Generation Kill" did.

So far as his "military philosophy" goes, as a basic "non-combatant" student of war (like me) I think he felt that the advent of nuclear weapons made war so inherently dangerous to humanity (and the planet) that it is really obsolete as a way of resolving disputes, and that there must be an alternative. OTOH I'm pretty sure that others are correct in noting his conclusion that warfare is so integral a part of human nature that it will never be eradicated. So, yeah, his life ended with the observation that war must be eliminated, but won't be. At least that's how I see it.

Despite some uneven writing, "The Face of Battle" makes Keegan a man well worth remembering. It ushered in a very fresh way to look at war and what we should take away from what we see.



Yes. i thought the "face of Battle" was pretty good. there were much better British military history riters, Fuller and Liddell Hart came to mind. He reminds me of Andrew Roberts, a nice guy and grand, i am sure as at High Table or as a speaker in an RAF mess, but... My mother told me all that stuff about the end of war 6o years ago. She was equally wrong, but had written fewer books. pl


i just listened to the first couple of chapters of Keegans American Civil War. Just the background, economics, sociology, population, statistics- halfway interesting reading. it seems the most telling indictment of southern slavery was the disrespect for slave marriages & keeping families intact- hence the sham jumping the broomstick marriage ceremony or the vows of "till death or 'distance' do us part."

Although he doesn't mention Tredegar Iron Works of Richmond- at least so far, there was little industrial capacity in the South save that. Tredegar was a phenom, manufacturing ordinance, cannons, even steam locomotives.

named after the Welsh iron town of the same name



I'm glad I did not waste my time reading that book. In fact slaves were usually sold in estaer sales as part of the probate process. The mythology propagated in lurid novels of breeding farms where slaves were raised as a "crop" is just that. As for industry, the confederate states constituted the eigth largest industrial power in the world at the time. They lost the war for their independence not from a lack of materiel but rather from a lack of manpower. Attrition won. pl


The German component of the Union Army was phenomenal. Greater than the Irish. Refugees from 1848, including generals. Lynk's bodyguards were German "gymnasts."

Pity their proportionate share of the population was diluted, it might have kept us out of World War I.



There were 50,000 immigrant Irish in the confed army. That proabably was close to the number in the Union Army. there were far more Germans in the US Army than the confed. They had a tough war as I am sure you know. pl


i was basing my comment on the lack of coastal defenses due to a dearth of steam engines for a confederate brown water navy to protect the sounds & rivers. That was the desire of the South's greatest scientist Matthew Fontaine Maury, the founder of the Naval Observatory.

The loss of Roanoke Island made possible by the capture of Cape Hatteras resulted in the loss of coastal NC. This made it harder to resupply tidewater VA. It also got Judah Benjamin fired as War Secretary.

I was in Kinston, NC a couple of weeks ago and saw a replica of the ram gunboat the Ram Neuse, named after the Neuse river. the Union Army periodically would raid Kinston from their base in New Bern. It was a huge boat. Big Mistake- for a ram, it is much better to have a smaller boat w/ a huge engine. hint E=1/2 *m* velocity squared.

The Burnside NC expedition had sailed down the NC sounds from Manteo, landed about where the Officers Club is at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station and marched up to New Bern. All the confed guns in New Bern were defending the Neuse river. Then the feds came down the railroad track & took Beaufort NC. They used spotters at Beaufort to spot the mortar fire from Bogue Banks causing the surrender of Ft. Macon which had flat fire cannon pointed out to sea protecting Beaufort Inlet. Robert E. Lee had had a hand in the design or redesign of Ft. Macon.


i think i might have said Manteo Island, a city located on Roanoke Island. Manteo, the former home of Andy Griffith, is on the Island. Roanoke Island is the site of the lost colony, first English settlement in the Americas.

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