In the Heat of Battle
A History of Those Who Rose to the Occasion and Those Who Didn'tBook - 2009
'In the heat of battle' is a phrase that connotes the extremity of the human condition. The battlefield is a canvas on which is sometimes painted the virtues of bravery, sacrifice, and extraordinary leadership--and which is sometimes the scene of disgrace. There are those like Ross McGinness who throw themselves onto a grenade to save the lives of their squadmates and those like William Calley who panic under the strain and unleash the My Lai massacre. Part of the perennial fascination with military literature is the question every armchair general asks him or her self--what kind of soldier would I be under pressure?
In his new book, Donough O'Brien, author of Fame By Chance and Donough O'Brien's Little Book of Banana Skins: The Secrets of the Slip-Ups and Screw-Ups that Brought the Famous Down to Earth, turns his attention toward military matters. In the Heat of Battle is comprised of seventy-five 800-1000 word vignettes highlighting soldiers who rose to the occasion and those who didn't. O'Brien uses his master story-telling skills to create a lively and informative compendium of bravery and humiliation, from Julius Caesar to the present day.
Sergeant James Graham who attacked the French at Hougoumont Farm during the Battle of Waterloo and was awarded for his courage by Wellington.
Crassus, whose ill prepared assault on the Parthians, led to ignoble defeat and by removing the balance of power between Pompey and Caesar, to civil war.
SS-Sturmfuhrer Michael Wittman who blunted Montgomery's planned advance towards Caen during the Second World War, destroying 27 enemy vehicles, including 12 tanks, at Villers-Bocage despite being severely outgunned.