Monday, October 15, 2012

To observe

I am slow to observe our loss of a
superlative and necessary historian,
a writer of texts of a true and trust-
worthy bond between generations in my
own family and, if that can be the case,
in many, many others. Last August saw
the death of Sir John Keegan, OBE, the
first since Homer to take up the char-
acter of The Face of Battle and with 
scrupulous methodology, to substantiate
the poetry of the Iliad.

A distinguished lecturer at Sandhurst,
John Keegan accepted teaching fellow-
ships at my university, at Vassar, and
even here, prefacing one of his histor-
ies with touching affection for our 4-
board fencing. His gift for anatomising
the demands of command on land and on
sea served many hours of conversation
between my father and myself, but his
quite properly legendary genius for the
narrative of the battle experience did
nourish our speculative silence over his
first son, my brother.

Through John Keegan I learned to read
between the lines not only of our great
military historians of the day, Max Has-
tings and Antony Beevor, but also of the
poetry of Housman, Owen, and Brooke.

Now again the Right rises up with its
to sway a fragile republic to delusions
of guaranteed security in bellicosity. 
In the name of fact, I remember John 

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