The Mask of Command

The Mask of Command

Alexander the Great, Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant, Hitler, and the Nature of Lea dership

Written by:

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140114065
  • 400 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


John Keegan’s brilliant look at the meaning of leadership

In The Mask of Command, John Keegan asks us to consider questions that are seldom asked: What is the definition of leadership? What makes a great military leader? Why is it that men, indeed sometimes entire nations, follow a single leader, often to victory, but with equal dedication also to defeat?

Dozens of names come to mind…Napoleon, Lee, Charlemagne, Hannibal, Castro, Hussein. From a wide array, Keegan chooses four commanders who profoundly influenced the course of history: Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant and Adolph Hitler. All powerful leaders, each cast in a different mold, each with diverse results.

“The best military historian of our generation.” –Tom Clancy
“A brilliant treatise on the essence of military leadership.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Fascinating and enlightening… marked by great intellectual liveliness… Mr. Keegan knows how to bring fighting alive on the page.” –The New York Times

Table of Contents

Introduction: Pre-Heroic Leadership
1. Alexander the Great and Heroic Leadership
Alexander: the Father of the Man
The Achievement
The Kingdom of Macedon
The Macedonian Army
Alexander’s Staff
Alexander and his Soldiers
Ceremony and Theatre
Alexander’s Oratory
Alexander on the Battlefield
Alexander and the Mask of Command
2. Wellington: The Anti-Hero
Wellington the Man
Wellington and Western Military Society
Wellington’s Army
Wellington’s Staff
Wellington’s Routine
Wellington and the Presentation of Self
Wellington in Battle
Observation and Sensation
3. Grant and Unheroic Leadership
Grant and the Progress of War
The Professional Career of U.S. Grant
Grant’s Army
Grant’s Staff
Grant on Campaign
Grant the Fighter
Grant and American Democracy
4. False Heroic: Hitler as Supreme Commander
War and Hitler’s World
The War Hitler Made
Hitler’s Soldiers
Hitler’s Headquarters
Hitler in Command
Hitler and the Theatre of Leadership
Conclusion: Post-Heroic: Command in the Nuclear World
The Imperative of Kinship
The Imperative of Prescription
The Imperative of Sanction
The Imperative of Action
The Imperative of Example
The Validation of Nuclear Authority
Select Bibliography