Alexander Rose, Men of War: The American Soldier in Combat at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima
Exploring the idea that combat encompasses both unadulterated terror and grinding boredom, Alexander Rose visits to discuss his unforgettable chronicle investigating the experience of battle as seen through the eyes of American soldiers at Bunker Hill (1775), Gettysburg (1863), and Iwo Jima (1945). Sponsored by Random House.
This is not a book about how great generals won their battles, nor is it a study in grand strategy. Men of War is instead a riveting, visceral, and astonishingly original look at ordinary soldiers under fire.
Drawing on an immense range of firsthand sources from the battlefield, Alexander Rose begins by re-creating the lost and alien world of eighteenth-century warfare at Bunker Hill, the bloodiest clash of the War of Independence—and reveals why the American militiamen were so lethally effective against the oncoming waves of British troops. Then, focusing on Gettysburg, Rose describes a typical Civil War infantry action, vividly explaining what Union and Confederate soldiers experienced before, during, and after combat. Finally, he shows how in 1945 the Marine Corps hurled itself with the greatest possible violence at the island of Iwo Jima, where nearly a third of all Marines killed in World War II would die. As Rose demonstrates, the most important factor in any battle is the human one: At Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima, the American soldier, as much as any general, proved decisive.
To an unprecedented degree, Men of War brings home the reality of combat and, just as important, its aftermath in the form of the psychological and medical effects on veterans. As such, the book makes a critical contribution to military history by narrowing the colossal gulf between the popular understanding of wars and the experiences of the soldiers who fight them.
ALEXANDER ROSE is the author of Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, which inspired the AMC original series 'TURN: Washington’s Spies,' and American Rifle: A Biography. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications.