The Face of Battle - Essay Example

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From that speech is drawn the famous quote attributed to General Sherman “war is Hell”. In actual fact the full quotation is as…
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Download file to see previous pages I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!
General Sherman had seen war up close and his admonition rings horribly true, and bears the ring of truthfulness gained through his heart experiences. However, the knowledge of the actual experience of war that most people have gained is most likely through secondhand exposure by way of literature or newspaper accounts or military histories.
In his book “The Face of Battle" John Keegan, a respected military historian and lecturer on war at the Royal military Academy at Sandhurst, attempts to put a human face upon the experience of war in ways perhaps never attempted before.
The purpose of his book is to describe experience of war, the most extreme of all human experiences, for those who have not experienced it firsthand. Paradoxically, Keegan himself is strictly in an academic who has had no personal experience of war himself, but only knows it secondhand through readings and personal information gained from relatives.
Keegan points out in the poignant and illuminating introduction to the books main thesis that the writing of history there has been a paucity of descriptions of war which can give to a reader any sort of realistic and visceral understanding of the process and all of its horrible mechanisms.
In his overview of the worlds literature on war he shows that almost all writings on the subject can be pigeonholed into a number of distinct categories. They can either be described as poetic and imagistic, desiccated and academic, wholly inaccurate and useless for gaining understanding, vague and confusing, too temporal, local and subjective, and perhaps worst of all of a self-serving.
For a prime example of the poetic and imagistic style of the war literature the author provides a spectacular example written by General Sir William Napier concerning a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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