Like many of you I’ve read John Keegan’s Face of Battle (1976) and can appreciate the contribution it made to the historiography of military history and its influence on countless Civil War historians who have written about the experience of the common soldier. Other than that, however, I haven’t read much of Keegan’s scholarship. I’m just not that well read in military history outside of the Civil War. I have to admit that I was just a bit excited about Keegan’s new military synthesis of the Civil War until I came across James McPherson’s review. This is a pretty tough review as McPherson reviews go. The mistakes cited by McPherson are that much more damaging given that Keegan is seen by many as an expert on geostrategic analysis. Even the characterizations of Grant, Sherman, Lee, and Jackson seem to be quite weak. Why do I have a feeling that we will see this book remaindered within a year.
A Blistering Review
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"In this stunning and well-researched book, Kevin Levin catches the new waves of the study of memory, black soldiers, and the darker underside of the Civil War as well as anyone has... Levin is both superb scholar and public historian, showing us a piece of the real war that does now get into the books, as well as into site interpretation."
David Blight, Author of Race and Reunion