Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reflecting on one of Keegan's outstanding works.

Of all the books, written by Sir John Keegan, the one I have enjoyed the most over the years is his outstanding treatment of the Second World War. There are very few overview volumes that contain the kind of detail that is a standard of Keegan's writing. I spent the morning rereading his chapter on the German assault on Crete. His insights on the battle continue to educate me. In particular, it is fascinating to see how important communication was to Freyberg's failure to understand how well his forces had done in the beginning of the German assault. Something so simple deprived the Allies of their first real opportunity to check the German advances of the early 1940's.


  1. I am a bigger fan of his The Face of Battle. For an excellent study of the development of infantry tactics, see John English's On Infantry. See also his study of Canadian operations in Normandy entitled Failure in High Command. For a fascinating study of the importance of logistics in war, see Martin van Creveld's On Logistics. (Hope I got the last title right.)

  2. Oops, Creveld's book is Supplying War. I believe he looks at problems faced by Rommel and Patton, among others.

  3. Thanks Chris. I'll have to check out the Failure in High Command. I am very interested in the Canadians operations in Normandy.

    Thanks for the info.

  4. You are welcome. If Canadian operations in Normandy interest you, you may also want to read Terry Copp's Fields of Fire. I toured some of the Normandy battlefields with Terry. His revisionist history is an interesting counterpoint to John A. English's Failure in High Command. Terry was a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener (formerly Berlin) Ontario. English is a retired LCol who lectured at the Royal Military College of Canada. English gained fame for his On Infantry, which was based on his MA thesis, IIRC. On Infantry is required reading for USMC officers.

    1. Which areas did you get to tour in Normandy? I would love to get the chance to visit there one day. I have seen Berlin, Aachen, Bastogne, Verdun and Cassino, but haven't made it to Normandy yet.