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Extended Audio Sample The Face of Battle Audiobook, by John Keegan Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,428 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Keegan Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2011 ISBN: 9781455178339
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In this major and wholly original contribution to military history, John Keegan reverses the usual convention of writing about war in terms of generals and nations in conflict, which tends to leave the common soldier as cipher. Instead, he focuses on what a set battle is like for the man in the thick of it—his fears, his wounds and their treatment, the mechanics of being taken prisoner, the nature of leadership at the most junior level, the role of compulsion in getting men to stand their ground, the intrusions of cruelty and compassion, the din and blood.

Set battles, with their unities of time and place, may be a thing of the past, but this anatomy of what they were like for the men who fought them is an unforgettable mirror held up to human nature.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time.”

    C. P. Snow, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A totally original and brilliant book.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “In this book, which is so creative, so original, one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “This without any doubt is one of the half-dozen best books on warfare to appear in the English language since the end of the Second World War.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “This is no ordinary book of military history. In fact, it’s considered a classic…[Simon Vance’s] reading matches the grace, intelligence, and pathos of Keegan’s prose…A flawless reading.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kent | 2/13/2014

    " The best history on what it was like to be a soldier at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. Keegan never lets you down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick | 2/6/2014

    " John Keegan approaches battle analysis from a different angle: how a battle would have been experienced by various participants. More than any other book this will give you an idea of what it was like to be a participant in historic battles like Waterloo. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Donovan | 1/30/2014

    " Tactics. Tactics. Tactics. Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan | 1/28/2014

    " Fascinating look at what the experience of battle would have been like in a specific area over a long period of time (north west of Europe in 1415, 1815, and 1916). It's light on tactics but very vivid in evoking what a soldier's experience of the battle might have been like. It's quite selective about what it covers (e.g., the first day of the Somme is the longest section of the book, but the rest of the battle hardly gets a page), but still an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thom | 1/28/2014

    " I think even non-military historians might enjoy this book with its careful look at the experience of individual soldiers. Keegan is able to show that even in the world of modern weapons, it remains predominantly a struggle of infantry. Victory continues to remain in the hands of the army that can maintain its moral certainty and not break in the face of tremendous stress. He ends by positing that "traditional" battles may be over because they have become so impersonal, that warfare will revert to a sort of guerilla and resistance style of fighting, because the individual is still important and feels important in those sorts of struggles. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben Vogel | 1/27/2014

    " Great book for it's time, still a very good book now. Keegan tried to give a perspective never before fully given, how war is and was for the soldiers on the line. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melanie | 1/22/2014

    " Giving this 3 stars is a little weird. It's hard to like a book like this, but it was interesting, and I thought it was balanced information about a subject I'm generally ill-informed on. The kind of book that is why booklists are good for me and not only just fun. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Curtiss | 1/16/2014

    " John Keegan tries to examine the factors common to all battles; the demands they place upon leaders and their men for generalship and courage. Keegan looks at three representative battles from british history; the Battle of Agincourt during the 100 Years' War, the Battle of Waterloo which finally ended Napoleon Bonaparte's career, and the Battle of the Somme's attempt to break the stalemate of the war in the trenches at the height (or rather the depth) of World War One. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/12/2014

    " One of the first analytical studies of battle from ground level. Anyone remotely interested in military history would enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Devon Capshaw | 1/4/2014

    " likely to be one of the best ever analysis of warfare. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 1/4/2014

    " Psychological impact/factors of combat and war "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Felix Castro | 12/26/2013

    " Excellent book detailing the experience of the individual soldier during 3 different wars covering 3 different time periods. Groundbreaking when first published, still holds up even today in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 G Caballero | 12/3/2013

    " I read this to understand more of my primary job as a part of the military. While the face of battle has changed from fronts to urban warfare, it was a very good analysis of how war has changed over time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mackay | 10/2/2013

    " A study of war through the ages, in all its never-ending similarities and horror. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phil | 9/18/2013

    " Keegan has established the gold standard for military history and historiography. As deeply insightful as it, however, it is not always an easy read, for he goes into fine detail such as a specialist would appreciate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 4/30/2013

    " I don't really do well with war books that go step by step through strategy, but some of the battles in here were pretty interesting, Waterloo was good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hubert Smith | 4/12/2013

    " My introduction to a phenomenal non-fiction writer and historian. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dr. | 8/7/2012

    " The best most level headed breakdown of potential experiences in battle that is available. All should read it. The first part about the importance of military history may be too heady for those who don't read tons of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephan Petersen | 7/26/2012

    " Impressive description of how battles where from a combatants point of view. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/2/2012

    " This book changed the way I think about war. The only one I know that tries to get at the experience of battle as lived by soldiers - in various epoch-changing battles through history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ajj | 3/13/2012

    " A must read if you are interested in military history. Keegan's breakdown of the three battles provides insight into the trials facing soldiers throughout history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick Crane | 12/16/2011

    " Analysis of key battles by the master historian "

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About the Author
Author John Keegan

John Keegan is the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London) and Britain’s foremost military historian. He is the author of many bestselling books, including The First World War, Intelligence in War, and The Battle for History. He lives in Wiltshire, England.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.