Alexander Rose, in his new book, Men of War, attempts to answer one of the intriguing questions of the human experience: “What’s it like being in battle?” Inspired by John Keegan’s The Face of Battle, Rose creates an American version to place the reader in the midst of combat as seen through the eyes of militiamen at Bunker Hill, Union and Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg, and Marines on Iwo Jima. He does so not from the strategic level but at the most extreme tactical level—the tip of the spear: fighting men on the front lines. Rose relays the vivid sights, sounds, smells, apprehensions, fears, and boredom of combat. He describes the horrendous wounds and subsequent triage and treatment in great detail, including psychological wounds that haunt men long after battle. Rose ultimately challenges the concept of a “universal soldier” to argue that...


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