The Mask of Command
John Keegan asks us to consider questions that are seldom asked: What makes a great military leader? Why is it that men, indeed sometimes entire nations, follow a single leader, often to victory, but with equal dedication also to defeat?
Dozens of names come to mind...Napoleon, Lee, Charlemagne, Hannibal, Castro, Hussein. From a wide array, Keegan chooses four commanders w
The Mask of Command examines in a unique fashion what great commanders did and did not do. Keegan does not seek to forcibly find the similarities as much as the unique capabilities that each of his four chosen subje...more
The Mask of Command is a companion to Keegan's earlier book The Face of Battle, published just over a decade beforehand. That book dealt with battle as experienced by the common soldier, while The Mask of Command is about the nature of military leadership. They have the same structure, a general introduction and conclusion framing some case studies, here Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Adolf Hitler. The title i...more
The book is, in my opinion, missing a chapter. It kind of ends in the nuclear age, admonishing modern leaders to tend...more
"Command at the front: always, sometimes, never" is one of the questions Keegan poses and the answer is that it depends on the circumstances. Alexander the Great was always at the front, Hitler never. The same goes for civilian command. I think it is worthwhile when managers take the pulse of their companies by visiting the battefield now and then....more
Dozens of names come to mind...Napoleon, Lee, Charlemagne, Hannibal, Castro, Hussein. From a wide array, Keegan chooses four commanders who profoundly influenced the course of history: Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington, Ulysses S. Grant and Adolph Hitle...more
In the "The Mask of Command", acclaimed military historian John Keegan examined four commanders. He began with the "heroic" commander, Alexander the Great, then went on to the "anti-hero" commander, Wellington. He then analysed the "unheroic" Ulysses Grant and finished by looking at the "false-heroic" leader, Adolf Hitler.
He hinted that there might be a fifth leader, the "post-heroic" leader.
But whether or not the reader agreed wi...more
Whereas TFoB is concerned with the experience of the battlefield as perceived by the warrior, "The Mask of Command" is about the military leader's role and his experiences.
Overall, it was a very satisfying and fascinating read. Factual and deep, without the sociologists' tendency to overgeneralize.
I'll give it 4/5 stars just to emphasize that I liked TFoB even more. On its own 5/5 stars would have been app...more