Acts of War: Behavior of Men in Battle

This book was written by Richard Holmes and published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. under the original title “Firing Line. ” Holmes is a historian with a military background. This book discusses the forces that act upon soldiers both during and after being in combat. Holmes discusses different behaviors and on more than one occasion describes how men at war go back to an animal instinct. Holmes discusses a behavior, which he calls “posturing. ” Posturing is looking and sounding aggressive without actually attacking to kill. Posturing may mean shooting wildly, shooting over the enemy’s head, or shooting warning shots.

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Holmes points out that many wild animals do the exact same thing to try and avoid confrontations. This book helps explain why the military does thing the way it does. Holmes describes why basic training is brutal and states that you are going to fight like you train. I agree with what Holmes says about training, during the time of battle there are many different forces that add stress to the situation and this is when you are going to fall back on your training. Holmes discusses the failures of early wars and how the military has tried to improve their training to develop more efficient and deadly soldiers.

This book also discusses something called “the fog of war. ” The fog of war includes many different stresses that can leave a soldier confused or disoriented during combat. Holmes discusses how many soldiers are unable to cope with the stresses of combat and what drastic steps they have to take to live a normal life after being in combat. This book was very interesting and it was hard to put down once I started reading. I would recommend this book to anyone especially those that have never been in the military. This book would give civilians an insight as to why the military does things certain ways and how combat effects soldiers.


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