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on 1 January 2015
A great classic which introduces a completely original possibly revolutionary approach to military history writing .While the orthodox military historians focused on the macrocosm picture of strategy, command and operations our author fascinated by the soldier's experience of war, tackles his subject from below by focusing on the microcosm picture , that of the ordinary men on the ground in the thick of the battle with no physical details spared.Not only he observes but he tries to explain with great psychological acumen the patterns of human conduct with their remarkable diversity, the entire gamut of actions/ reactions of the crowds in the heat of battle and the individual acts of valour and bravery or simply self preservation. By sieving through the diaries and oral recollections that evoke the individual experience of what is it like to be under fire he attempts to probe the nature of leadership, self sacrifice, comradeship under fire, fear and flight, steadfastness and resolution.

This a truly fine achievement giving a gritty and far more gripping realistic account of the simple foot soldier's experience of battle from the medieval archery exchanges to the horrendous trench war of the early twentieth century.
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on 24 March 2017
Antony Beevor recommended this book on Desert Island Discs in early 2017. The author was his military history teacher at Sandhurst. I don't know how pioneering it was when written in the 70's but I suspect it was ground breaking. Its very economic and densely factual but provides a vivid insight into what it was like to be in these three key battles in our country's history. It treats each battle in a similar way by comparing on each occasion the effects different types of soldiering eg infantry, cavalry and artillery had on each other. In this way it shows how technology changes techniques of defence and attack. The most gripping insights come from the first hand accounts of those who took part. The pervading experience is that such experiences are profoundly horrific and should never occur.Intense admiration for the bravery of men at war is unavoidable, but most of all one questions the naivety of thousands of young men who believed that , particularly at the Somme, and the leaders who persuaded them that, to die for your country was a good thing.
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on 23 September 2015
This is a brilliant insight into the progressive changes in warfare since the 14th century onwards. The statistics and other information therein provides a mine of information on weaponary, tactics, military organisation and formations, administration and associated activities. The occasional accompanying verbatim reports from various participants adds piquancy to the work. Having originally got this out of the library, I decided to purchase the book to have as another 'reference bible' for my current historical studies into warfare, combatants, resources,outcomes and aftermath.

well worth a serious read.
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on 24 December 2012
There has to be a heading to a review and I thought of many and 'Good' doesn't remotely touch it but it lets me get to these words. I expect there are a pile of very positive reviews going back many years (this is not a recent publication) and without seeing any of them I agree with them all. I just missed National Service and never had much to do with the Armed Forces but I have always wondered how I would have dealt with active service. I suspect that this book gets you closest than any other to what it may have been like and I'm now glad that I didn't get any closer than this book. There is much to wonder at and to fascinate -- fancy having to stand to attention in the face of steady cannon fire for many hours and without flinching while two thirds of your comrades fell. If you are male I think this read is a must and makes you wonder if war is really something that we need to have as part of human endeavour. And if you are female maybe it will give some idea of what the boys get up to in their free time!
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on 2 May 2013
An excellent well researched book which deals mostly with the human experience of war and its totality on those that fought.
The book deals primarily with 3 battles Agincourt, Waterloo, and The Somme.
What I found fascinating was the examinations of why armies and individuals take up arms, go to war, fight or in many cases not fight.
Although the Author could do with adding the more modern military references of the Falklands, Gulf wars and Afghanistan to its body of work. As a book of its time (written pre Glastnost) it still should be essential reading for the serious and amatuer military historian.
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on 3 April 2017
Excellent book
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on 22 June 2014
This is a very interesting and engaging book with a lot of valuable ideas and insights. The study of history can often be very dry and clinical, and the author manages to bring focus to the ordinary people who were involved in three critical engagements.
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on 10 January 2011
This is a fine exposition from a viewpoint I was not familiar with. The fact that the book is a 'classic' is I well known to specialists in the field, which of course, I am not. However for me it offered thoughts to consider that I have often wondered about, 'how would I react' to those sort of battle situations.
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on 12 December 2016
Good price for book
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on 23 February 2013
I think all history students should read this book! It is very interesting and engaging, providing detail and information without going too far!
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