Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review: Men of War

I recently finished reading "Men of War" by Alexander Rose (not Axl Rose), a Keegan/Face of Battle style look at American soldiers in battle in three different eras (AWI, ACW, WW2).

Rose focuses on three different battles to show the experiences of the common foot soldier - Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima.

I can't recommend this book.  The Bunker Hill chapters were good (around 100 pages), the Gettysburg chapters were a bit "eh" (Gettysburg is perhaps too familiar to me for this chapter to hold much interest), while I found the Iwo Jima chapters (the largest section of the book at around 150 pages) to be very dreary and depressing.  Rose focuses very heavily in the Iwo Jima chapters on casualties, shell shock, gore, and morbid descriptions of wounds and death.   After about 2 pages of that, my attitude was "OK, I get it....", but the theme continued throughout the chapters.

Rose is an excellent writer, and the book reads easily.

Overall, I'd have to give it a 2.5 stars out of 5.   Way too much graphic description of wounds in the Iwo Jima chapter.   Actually, Rose did seem to spend an inordinate amount of space describing wounds and death throughout the book.  Maybe if that level of traumatic discussion interests you, this book would be more interesting.  I think we all know how horrible war is, but this book grinds that fact into you.

His stated goal was to do a book similar to Keegan's "Face of Battle" focusing on the US soldier.  I feel like the resulting book is a pale comparison to "Face of Battle".

I do know that I'll never game Pacific island campaigns.  Maybe something in Burma, etc., but the island battles seem so predetermined once air/sea superiority was established.  But that's just my opinion!

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