British military historian John Keegan spent his life studying war, but he never fought in one and described himself as more or less a pacifist. Keegan, who died Thursday at age 78, chronicled the history of warfare from Alexander the Great to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and was considered one of the foremost military historians of his generation. His books included A History of Warfare and The Face of Battle.
Born in 1934, Keegan had tuberculosis as a child, which left him sick from the age of 13 to 22, and unable to walk without a cane. He was a senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst for more than 25 years and became a journalist for the British newspaper The Telegraph in 1986. On becoming the newspaper's military affairs editor, he told The New York Times, "I thought to myself, if I don't do it now I'll be an academic all of my life. So I left Sandhurst, and I've been enjoying myself ever since as a journalist."
Fresh Air remembers Keegan with an excerpt of an interview he recorded with Terry Gross on July 30, 1998.