The Face of Battle by John Keegan

The Face of Battle, is a 1976 non-fiction book on military history by the English military historian John Keegan. It deals with the structure of warfare in three time periods—medieval Europe, the Napoleonic Era, and World War I—by analyzing three battles: Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. All three of these battles involved British soldiers and occurred in approximately the same geographical area. The work was groundbreaking in that it does not examine the battles from only the generals' perspectives nor simply accumulate quotes from ordinary soldiers. Instead, it focuses on the practical mechanics of battle and critically examines popular myths about warfare. For instance, Keegan disputes the effectiveness of cavalry charges in even the Middle Ages. At Agincourt, the lightly armored archers dug stakes into the ground to impede horses, while heavy infantry who stood their ground had little to fear from cavalry. Focusing on the mechanics of battle, Keegan discusses troop spacing, the effectiveness of weapons and formations, and other measures of tactical importance. He also examines on the experience of the individual soldier of the time. This is particularly evident in the 1988 illustrated edition, whose frontispiece is a photograph of a weeping "Vietnamese soldier holding the body of his dead child".

The 157th greatest nonfiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - 81st on The Modern Library | 100 Best Nonfiction (The Modern Library)
  2. - The 50 Best Books of the Century (Intercollegiate Studies Institute)

Buy This Book

Name Binding Sales Rank Lowest New Lowest Used Published
The Face of Battle (Playaway Adult Nonfiction) Preloaded Digital Audio Player 16921873 $50.00 2008
The Face of Battle Audio CD 1758520 $7.10 $8.95 2012
The Illustrated Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme Hardcover 1056029 $47.93 $4.55 1989
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme Paperback 5376706 $13.70 $13.29 2009
Face of Battle Paperback 2327159 $11.95 $1.98
The Face of Battle - Illustrated Paperback 6659327 $647.77 $53.89
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme Kindle Edition 118927 $11.84 1983
The Face of Battle (Library Edition) Audio CD 2870140 $50.00 $26.75 2001
The Face of Battle Hardcover 567899 $6.22 $0.01
The Face of Battle Paperback 2562864 $10.00 $9.95
The Face of Battle Paperback 2405428 $0.67 1976
The Face of Battle Publisher: Penguin Paperback 2554212 $13.79 $4.18
By John Keegan: The Face of Battle Hardcover 646140 $499.95 $14.37 1976
The Face of Battle Hardcover 500026 $6.70 $0.01 1976
The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme Paperback 36435 $7.50 $0.01 1983