The reality of what it is to be a soldier, by Britain's foremost military historian.This ambitious, wide-ranging, exhaustively researched book is a compelling attempt to grasp the very nature of war. It takes us through the soldier's experience in its entirety - from the humiliation of basic training and the intense comradeship of army life, to the terror, isolation and exhaustion of battle. What does it feel like to be in the firing line? How does killing change a man? And what do the extreme conditions of war reveal about a man's basic instincts, his courage or his fear, his urge for self-preservation or self-sacrifice?Covering several centuries of warfare, and including the personal recollections of veterans from two World Wars, from Korea, Vietnam, the Falklands and the Arab-Israeli conflicts, Richard Holmes gives us a powerful picture of what motivates the soldier and enables him to maintain the struggle in conditions of extreme degradation and danger.
Richard Holmes is Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. For many years he taught military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before leaving for a spell of full-time military service. His books include The Little Field Marshal: Sir John French; Firing Line; The Road to Sedan; Riding the Retreat; Redcoat; and Wellington: The Iron Duke. He has presented several BBC TV series, including War Walks and The Western Front, and wrote the accompanying books. He enlisted into the Territorial Army in 1965 and rose to the rank of brigadier. He was the first reservist to hold the post of Director of Reserve Forces and Cadets in the Ministry of Defence, retiring in 2000.