The Face of Battle

The Face of Battle

A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140048971
  • 368 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Military historian John Keegan’s groundbreaking analysis of combat and warfare

The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at the "point of maximum danger." Without the myth-making elements of rhetoric and xenophobia, and breaking away from the stylized format of battle descriptions, John Keegan has written what is probably the definitive model for military historians. And in his scrupulous reassessment of three battles representative of three different time periods, he manages to convey what the experience of combat meant for the participants, whether they were facing the arrow cloud at the battle of Agincourt, the musket balls at Waterloo, or the steel rain of the Somme.

“The best military historian of our generation.” –Tom Clancy
The Face of Battle

The Face of Battle

Written by: John Keegan


“The most brilliant evocation of military experience in our time”
—C.P. Snow

“In this book, which is so creative, so original, one learns as much about the nature of man as of battle.”
—J.H. Plumb, The 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.”
—Michael Howard, The Sunday Times

“A totally original and brilliant book”
The New York Review of Books

Table of Contents


Chapter I: Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things

A Little Learning
The Usefulness of Military History
The Deficiencies of Military History
The “Battle Piece”
“Killing No Murder?”
The History of Military History
The Narrative Tradition
Verdict or Truth?

Chapter 2: Agincourt, 25 October 1415

The Campaign
The Battle
Archers versus Infantry and Cavalry
Cavalry versus Infantry
Infantry versus Infantry
The Killing of the Prisoners
The Wounded
The Will to Combat

Chapter 3: Waterloo, 18 June 1815

The Campaign
The Personal Angle of Vision
The Physical Circumstances of Battle
Categories of Combat
Single Combat
Cavalry versus Cavalry
Cavalry versus Artillery
Cavalry versus Infantry
Artillery versus Infantry
Infantry versus Infantry
The Wounded

Chapter 4: The Somme, 1 July 1916

The Battlefield
The Plan
The Preparations
The Army
The Tactics
The Bombardment
The Final Preliminaries
The Battle
Infantry versus Machine-Gunners
Infantry versus Infantry
The View from across No-Man’s-Land
The Wounded
The Will to Combat

Chapter 5: The Future of Battle

The Moving Battlefield
The Nature of Battle
The Trend of Battle
The Inhuman Face of War
The Abolition of Battle