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Fields of Battle: The Wars for North America

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  279 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
At once a grand tour of the battlefields of North America and an unabashedly personal tribute to the military prowess of an essentially unwarlike people, Fields of Battle spans more than two centuries and the expanse of a continent to show how the immense spaces of North America shaped the wars that were fought on its soil. of photos.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 27th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Andrew
Nov 03, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it
Fields of Battle is John Keegan's study of warfare in North America. In chapters on the French and Indian War, the Revolution, the Civil War, the Indian Wars (as well as a brief coda on flight and strategic bombing) Keegan demonstrates that America's peculiar geography played a major role in shaping the military and political outcomes that led to today's United States.

He keeps his nose to the ground, revisiting the sites of important military engagements, which, he points out, frequently recur
...more
James
Jan 09, 2008 James rated it liked it
Ostensibly this is a history of American wars (Revolution, 1812, Civil War, Indian Wars) but it really plays more like a nostalgic travelogue and a survey of American geography and topography. An interesting note for Keegan fans: his description of Little Bighorn drips with contempt for both sides. He is normally (perhaps overly) reverent of warriors but he has nothing but disdain for Custer's sloppy bravado and roundly dismisses the territorial claims of the plains Indians. An interesting work ...more
Bill
Oct 05, 2014 Bill rated it liked it
The late John Keegan's analysis of the "wars for North America", he covers the French and Indian War, the Revolution, the Civil War and the wars against the Plains Indians. I didn't learn a great deal from the chapters on the military activity, but I did enjoy his "One Englishman's America" chapter. In it he covers how he was exposed to Americans, from his parents' discussions of the U.S. prior to the U.S. entry into WW2 ("Yes, if were waiting for the Americans, but not a single word so I rememb ...more
David
Jul 21, 2008 David rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Grognards, those interested in new world fortifications and military strategy
I love military history, and Keegan sits like a large, lumpy something-or-other in the midst of the field. He's probably the most-read guy out there that can boast his elite academic credentials, and he's written on every aspect of war in every historical period, but I'd personally really rather read something with some pizzaz. I've read his History of the First World War as well, and I have to say its pretty darn boring, if erudite. It seems like his editors asked him to punch it up a bit for F ...more
Frank Roberts
Jul 18, 2013 Frank Roberts rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The chapter on Little Bighorn was worth the entire book. I've never given much attention to that battle, because I find Custer unappealing and the Indian Wars depressing. But Keegan's writing on the battle was engrossing.

Overall, the book was very enjoyable, a sort of travelogue of Keegan's explorations of the North American countryside and the some of the key battles that shaped its destiny. (I was rather confused that his Civil War focus was on the Peninsular campaign, rather than Gettysburg.
...more
Rebecca
Jun 23, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2009
This is a great read - even for those who are not usually readers of nonfiction or of books on historical topics. Keegan writes well for a lay audience and makes the narrative aspects of the historical events compelling to the modern reader. His introduction is worth reading all by itself because it is a wonderful piece of cultural commentary about the relationship between English travelers and the American continent. If you are a fan of Bill Bryson, you might like Keegan's introduction because ...more
Conrad
Apr 10, 2007 Conrad rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, history, to-reread
Shortly after I read this book, I heard an interview - Fresh Air or something - in which Keegan put forth the view that Native American culture in general benefitted greatly from the technologies colonialism brought to their shores. Going back over the book, I couldn't find anything that promoted this view, so I am left to assume that he omitted all his research proving such a surprising point when writing Fields of Battle for some reason. Why anyone would turn down the opportunity to prove such ...more
Wachlin007 Hotmail
Feb 23, 2008 Wachlin007 Hotmail rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The author is a modern-day Alexander de Toqueville. He is an Englishman who has travelled all over North America, studying the different battlefields and also the American culture. He discusses how America's landscape has formed its wars and its attitudes. It is very informative because it is written by a very well-informed outsider. I really liked this book.
Mark Berry
Aug 16, 2012 Mark Berry rated it liked it
Interesting to read about North American history through the eyes of an Englishman. Typically Keegan, he crams the book with minute details. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy his exhaustive recollections of his American travels. A little bit of that goes a long way.
Dr.
Aug 26, 2009 Dr. rated it it was ok
Shelves: military-history
Pretty scattered. It took me two tries to actually read it. it seems full of holes. It was awesome to see him right about the Civil War for more than a few sentences though.
Vance
Oct 14, 2008 Vance is currently reading it
Wow..Just wow. Keegan is first in rank of military historians. The first chapter is a personal account of the United States. Quite touching and insightful.
Daniel
Dec 08, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Most people do not know all this but this is why we are what we are and speak the language that we do today.
Jay Gerak
Jan 13, 2013 Jay Gerak rated it really liked it
Keegan gives his take on military history of several areas in Nort America.
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Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE was a British military historian, lecturer and journalist. He published many works on the nature of combat between the 14th and 21st centuries concerning land, air, maritime and intelligence warfare as well as the psychology of battle.

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