Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 184
The Face of Battle is a military history by John Keegan that describes and assesses three battles in British history: Agincourt, Waterloo, and Somme. Keegan reveals what these battles meant to the soldiers that fought them, and he describes their experiences without glorifying the battle scenes. Instead, he portrays the grim and gruesome realities of combat. He conveys the strength and determination of the British soldiers, and he compares their experiences during these three battles. He provides an overview of the events that led up to each battle, and then he assesses the soldiers’ experiences, comparing and contrasting them during different stages of the battles.
Keegan’s descriptions of the battles are highly detailed, which brings the realities of the horrors experienced by the soliders to the readers. He focuses mainly on the mechanics of the battles, and he attempts to explain the motivations and feelings of the soldiers as they prepared for war, fought on the battlefields, and dealt with the aftermath. In the final section of the book, Keegan draws corollaries between the battles and stresses the psychological effect on the soldiers.