Academic journal article Military Review

The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle

Academic journal article Military Review

The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle

Article excerpt

THE LAST FULL MEASURE: How Soldiers Die in Battle

Michael Stephenson, Crown Publishers, New York, 2012, 464 pages, $28.00

In The Last Full Measure, author Michael Stephenson analyzes a topic that is central to warfare but seldom discussed: how soldiers have died in combat. Stephenson, the former editor of the Military Book Club and the author of a book on the Revolutionary War examines how soldiers met their deaths throughout history. His goal is to explain this topic in a professional, nonsensational, and sensitive manner, and demonstrate that the battlefield realities were often harsher than the romanticized visions and sanitized histories people are accustomed to reading. He argues that "the stench and screams give way to rousing images. The death agonies settle into the encouraging heroic gestures of the war memorial and the movies." Overall, the author succeeds in his goal and provides the reader a lasting image of combat's harsh realities and a unique analysis of war.

The Last Full Measure brings together the factors that cause death on the battlefield. The author organizes the book chronologically to account for the specifics of each historical period concluding with "Soldiers Die in the Style of Their Times" This approach makes it easy for the reader to understand the historical period and see the connections across the ages. The book primarily focuses on deaths caused by ground combat rather than by sickness and disease. Each chapter, from ancient times to the wars of today, discusses the weapons that killed soldiers, the tactics and strategy that impacted their deaths, the decisions soldiers made and the ones made for them, and the impact of medical services. …

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