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FIELDS OF BATTLE by John Keegan Kirkus Star


The Wars for North America

by John Keegan

Pub Date: May 8th, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-42413-X
Publisher: Knopf

Distinguished British military historian Keegan (A History of Warfare, 1993, etc.) poignantly weaves personal reflections and historical analysis together in an insightful, oddly charming account of the relationship between America's landscapes and the wars that have taken place on our continent. A self-confessed Americanophile (he begins and ends his account with the words "I love America"), Keegan eloquently writes of his deep feelings of affection for the nation and its people, of his first impressions of the transatlantic allies as a youth in WW II England, of his trips through the America of the 1950s and the very different country of the 1970s, and of his thoughts on certain unique qualities of American thought and character. Keegan offers little in the way of a unified historical theme or argument for his disparate observations on America. Instead, his account of American forts and battlefields seems to have more in common with the excellent English tradition of travel writing, a genre spiced with deep historical learning and insight. Keegan selects a broad range of battlefields, from the sites of the French and Indian Wars through the fortresses of the Revolution and the Civil War, to the battlefields of the Indian Wars of the western plains. In each case Keegan shows how geography--command of key rivers and other waterways and access to natural resources--dictated the course of the war. Keegan ends his American odyssey in Kitty Hawk, N.C., and meditates on the Wright brothers' achievement there, which presaged the aeronautical technology that would dominate war and travel in the 20th century. Fans of Keegan, aficionados of American military history, and Americanophiles of all kinds will delight in this learned, affectionate, and highly personal look at our peace-loving nation and its warlike history.