Death of the Hero

Michael Howard

  • The Mask of Command by John Keegan
    Cape, 366 pp, £12.95, November 1987, ISBN 0 224 01949 X

Among the distinguished group of military historians which has flourished in this country since the Second World War, John Keegan is outstanding. His talents are remarkable: a wide-ranging and speculative mind; clarity in analysis; a deep understanding of the military community; and enviable descriptive gifts to ensure that his books will be acceptable to that wide class of readership which seeks no more from military history than a jolly good read. His skills in this last direction sometimes conceal the profundity of observations which penetrate deep below the surface of military phenomena into the social and psychological conditions which produce them, but all his books can be read on the two levels of military description and social analysis. Increasingly they have been tilting towards the latter, but it is his descriptive powers as a historian which will continue to hold the attention – as in The Mask of Command.

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