The Face of Battle

by John Keegan

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 182

There are no characters, per se, in The Face of Battle, since the work does not follow the format of most military history narratives of generals and marshals (a type of history sometimes criticized as "great man history"), instead digging deeper into specific battles to better understand their importance and impact. Indeed, if there are any characters in the work, they are individual soldiers on the battlefield itself, almost always unnamed, but given much more attention than the high-level commands and tactics themselves.

Nevertheless, it would be almost impossible to write a work of military history without referencing the commanders. Keegan does this, talking in the introduction about Caesar, in the Agincourt section about Henry V, in the Waterloo section about Napoleon and Wellington, and in the Somme section about Kitchener. This helps us to better understand their minds. However, as soon as he references one of the commanders, he breaks to explain how their decisions affected the soldiers themselves, trying to describe how arrows and bullets and cannon-balls would have faced those brave enough to risk their lives on the battlefield.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access