cover image The Mask of Command

The Mask of Command

John Keegan. Viking Books, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-670-45988-9

By the author of The Face of Battle, this is a study of the transformation of military leadership in the context of heroism in its broadest sense. Keegan uses as examples four commanders whose attitudes, styles and military philosophies differed drastically: Alexander the Great, ""heroic leader as conquerer''; Wellington as ``anti-heroic leader under constitutional monarchy''; U. S. Grant as ``consciously unheroic''; and Adolf Hitler as ``fake heroic.'' These four long chapters comprise a new way of explaining the political-military policies and actions of four major conductors of war across 2000 years of Western history. Taken as a whole, the sections are building-blocks leading up to Keegan's masterful closing argument warning that in the nuclear age heroic leadership of any style would lead to the destruction of civilization. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, notes the author, was conducted ``in a strictly post-heroic manner,'' and offers hope that future nuclear crises may be resolved ``as rationally and harmlessly.'' Photos. 40,000 first printing; BOMC and QPBC featured alternates. (November 11)