Books: Heroism's End? THE MASK OF COMMAND

by John Keegan Viking; 368 pages; $18.95

A military historian who had never seen combat, John Keegan distinguished - himself a decade ago by writing The Face of Battle, a vivid triptych on three epic British battles that had all taken place within about 100 miles of one another: Agincourt (1415), Waterloo (1815) and the Somme (1916). Keegan ignored many considerations of high strategy and concentrated instead on what the ordinary soldiers had encountered through the centuries: the recurring experience of pain, noise, terror, courage, exhaustion.

Now, while quoting Montesquieu's dictum that a "rational army would run away," Keegan has undertaken a kind of sequel that shrewdly explores...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!