Military history


My thanks are due above all to the colleagues and pupils among whom I spent twenty-six years at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. When I joined the academic staff of the Academy in 1960, many of the military instructors were veterans of the Second World War and it was from conversation with them that I first began to develop an understanding of the war as a human event. I also learnt a great deal from my pupils; because of the Sandhurst method of instruction, which requires cadets to prepare ‘presentations’ of battles and campaigns, I was often almost as much a listener as a teacher in the Sandhurst Halls of Study and found a great deal of illumination in hearing those episodes described by embryo officers too young to have taken part in them. A number of my pupils have subsequently become professional military historians themselves, including Charles Messenger, Michael Dewar, Anthony Beevor and Alex Danchev. Of all Sandhurst influences, however, none was stronger than that of the Reader in Military History, Brigadier Peter Young, DSO, MC, FSA, a distinguished Commando soldier of the war, the founder of the War Studies Department and an inspiration to generations of officer cadets.

The Sandhurst Library contains one of the most important collections of Second World War literature in the world, and I was fortunate enough to be able to use it almost daily for many years. I would particularly like to thank the present Librarian, Mr Andrew Orgill, and his staff; I would also like to thank Mr Michael Sims and his staff at the Staff College Library, Mr John Andrews and Miss Mavis Simpson at the Ministry of Defence Library and the staff of the London Library.

Friends, and colleagues past and present, at Sandhurst and The Daily Telegraph whom I would particularly like to thank include Colonel Alan Shepperd, Librarian Emeritus of Sandhurst, Mr Conrad Black, Mr James Allan, Dr Anthony Clayton, Lord Deedes, Mr Jeremy Deedes, Mr Robert Fox, Mr Trevor Grove, Miss Adela Gooch, Mr Nigel Horne, Mr Andrew Hutchinson, Mr Andrew Knight, Mr Michael Orr, Mr Nigel Wade, Dr Christopher Duffy and Professor Ned Willmott. I owe warmest thanks of all to Mr Max Hastings, the Editor of The Daily Telegraph and a distinguished historian of the Second World War. Among others I would like to thank are Mr Andrew Heritage and Mr Paul Murphy.

The manuscript was typed by Miss Monica Alexander and copy-edited by Miss Linden Stafford and I thank them warmly for their professional help. I would also like to thank my editor, Mr Richard Cohen of Hutchinson, and the team he assembled to see the manuscript through production, particularly Mr Robin Cross, Mr Jerry Goldie and Miss Anne-Marie Ehrlich. I owe much gratitude, as always, to my literary agent, Mr Anthony Sheil, and Miss Lois Wallace, my former American literary agent. I am especially indebted to the scholars who read the manuscript: Dr Duncan Anderson, Mr John Bullen, Mr Terry Charman, Mr Terence Hughes, Mr Norman Longmate, Mr James Lucas, Mr Bryan Perrett, Mr Antony Preston, Mr Christopher Shores and Professor Norman Stone. For the errors which remain I alone am responsible.

My thanks finally to friends at Kilmington, particularly Mrs Honor Medlam, Mr Michael Gray and Mr Peter Stancombe, to my children, Lucy Newmark and her husband Brooks, Thomas, Rose and Matthew, and my darling wife, Susanne.

John Keegan
Kilmington Manor
June 6, 1989

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