View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:16 pm

Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
RIP John Keegan 
Author Message

Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:00 pm
Posts: 152
Location: Naggarond, Dancing with Morathi.

You will be missed, Sir.

John Keegan, an Englishman widely considered to be the pre-eminent military historian of his era and the author of more than 20 books, including the masterwork “The Face of Battle,” died Thursday at his home in Kilmington, England. He was 78.

Mr. Keegan said he was "95 percent pacifist."
His death was announced in The Telegraph, where he had served as the military affairs editor. No cause of death was given, though Con Coughlin, the paper’s executive foreign editor, said in an e-mail that Mr. Keegan had died after a long illness.

Mr. Keegan never served in the military. At 13, he contracted orthopedic tuberculosis and spent the next nine years being treated for it, five of them in a hospital, where he used the time to learn Latin and Greek from a chaplain. As he acknowledged in the introduction to “The Face of Battle,” he had “not been in a battle, nor near one, nor heard one from afar, nor seen the aftermath.”

But he said he learned in 1984 “how physically disgusting battlefields are” and “what it feels like to be frightened” when The Telegraph sent him to Beirut, Lebanon, to write about the civil war there.

Mr. Keegan’s body of work ranged across centuries and continents and, as a whole, traced the evolution of warfare and its destructive technology while acknowledging its constants: the terrors of combat and the psychological toll that soldiers have endured.

He had a keen interest in the United States, receiving a visiting fellowship at Princeton, writing meditations on North American wars and briefing President Bill Clinton in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in 1994.

Mr. Keegan was particularly concerned with the cultural roots of war, asking, “Why do men fight?” In his classic 1993 study “A History of Warfare,” he argued that military conflict was a cultural ritual from which the modern notion of total war, like in World War I, had been an aberration.

His topics included King Henry V of England, Napoleon and the military machine of Hitler, but he also grappled with warfare in the nuclear age, concluding in “The Face of Battle” that total war was now almost unthinkable. “The suspicion grows that battle has already abolished itself,” he wrote.

In “The Iraq War,” published in 2004, he followed the technological revolution in warfare with the introduction of computer-guided “smart” weapons. He also rendered a political judgment, concluding — with the war still new and yet to be transformed by sectarian conflict and the surge of American troops — that the invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein was justified.

Probably none of his books was more admired than the “The Face of Battle,” which was published in 1976. The Cambridge historian J. H. Plumb called it “so creative, so original” and a “brilliant achievement.” A huge publishing success, it launched Mr. Keegan’s career as a popular historian.

He examined three battles in the book: Agincourt in 1415, Waterloo in 1815 and the Somme in 1916, all involving the English. His tale was somber and compelling about what happens in the heat of battle, including the execution of prisoners.

He was not above a personal note. Describing the horrors at the Somme, where his father was gassed, he appears to grow melancholy, pausing to reflect on how the war’s shadow lingered even 70 years later.

He speaks of “the military historian, on whom, as he recounts the extinction of this brave effort or that, falls an awful lethargy, his typewriter keys tapping leadenly on the paper to drive the lines of print, like the waves of a Kitchener battalion failing to take its objective, more and more slowly toward the foot of the page.”

John Desmond Patrick Keegan was born on May 15, 1934, in London. During the German blitz in 1940, he was evacuated with other children to Taunton, England, far from the targets of the Luftwaffe bombers. “I had a good war,” he wrote, “of a small boy whisked from London at the first wail of sirens.”

Role-Playing Group 30
Helkor Makolus, Warrior.
WS 4, S4, T4, D3, I3. Gear: Cloak, Longsword, Light Armour, Shield, 4GC, Bastard Sword

Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:00 pm
Malekith's Best Friend
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:28 am
Posts: 1721
Location: California

Need I say More?

Who needs sanity? I have a Hydra

Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:04 pm
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 2 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
Designed by ST Software