Veteran’s History Project by the Library of Congress

If you are a history geek like me, and I assume you are because you are reading the blog, then here is a project that should be interesting.  In the late 90’s and early 00’s there was a much bandied statistic floating around that 1,000 World War II vets died every day.  If that number were true then it is probably not true anymore because there probably are not enough World War II vets left to keep dying in those numbers for very long. One thing that modern technology allows is to capture the memories of individual and put them into a form accessible to both the public and historians.  … Read more…

Book Review: Dresden: A Survivor’s Story by Victor Gregg

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Victor Gregg’s Dresden: A Survivor’s Story is a short work describing the author’s experience as  POW who got caught in Dresden in February, 1945 when the Allies bombed the city in what would become known as the Firebombing of Dresden.  The attack essentially destroyed the city center and killed an estimated 25,000 German’s.  Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the attacks that also discusses the controversy surrounding them that has grown up since the war.  To sum up the controversy, general anti-war people claim they were a crime and … Read more…

How to Build and Fire a Medieval Trebuchet

Who would not want to build their own Trebuchet and rain down destruction on various targets in their backyard? I know I did. Luckily, I got a Trebuchet kit from my wife for Christmas. The below video is the result of that and one I put together for a class I am currently taking on Desktop Video Production. The assignment was to make a five minute video on a topic of our choice. It had to have x-number of transitions, background music, narration and video effects. That is why there are so many crazy transitions in the video. Believe me, shooting it is way more fun that watching me shoot it. That doesn’t bother me because … Read more…

What is Military History?

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The title of this piece is a very good question in my opinion. The question really came home to me recently when I was reading the Calls for Papers in the bi-annual newsletter of the Society of Military History of which I am a member. It strikes me more and more often that Military History, like other branches of history is increasingly splintered and Balkanized. Much as traditional history is now more concerned with what the average person did than with the trajectory of nations or kingdoms, modern military history seems to focus more and more on the experience of the average soldier instead of how and why wars were … Read more…

Historical Resources on the Web

Updated 24 June 2014 — Below the fold is a list of historical sources on the internet, this includes both primary and secondary source collections.   I am constantly updating this list when I run across useful sites.   Please point me at sites I miss in the comments section. … Read more…

My First Peer-Reviewed Article

I received notification this morning that my first Peer-Reviewed article has been accepted for publication.  It is an annotated bibliography of Frederick the Great for Oxford University Press (OUP) Online and it has taken me awhile to write it up.  The process of writing it is pretty interesting in and of itself and I am going to describe how that went. I was first contacted by OUP last November asking if I had any interest in writing an article.  The initial contact had the proposed subject and that Dr. Dennis Showalter is the Editor-in-Chief for the project. Because I get blog related spam and fishy requests and offers all the … Read more…

Documentary Storm

DocumentaryStorm, a website for documentary lovers has asked me to help them promote their site and help them celebrate their one year anniversary.  After checking it out I agreed, they have a pretty good collection of military themed documentaries.  I have highlighted some of the ones I think are the best below.  Fell free to check out their list at DS Military Videos. The Great War, This is the complete Great War series that was initially aired by PBS in the ’90s. The Survivors of Stalingrad:  A good series about the battle for Stalingrad and the subsequent fate of the German troops who were captured there. Ancient Warriors: This excellent series … Read more…

Book Review: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War by Alison Morton

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I was contacted by Ms. Morton about reading and reviewing her book: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War and jumped at the opportunity as the subject matter of the book, German Woman serving with the Wehrmacht is one that has been virtually ignored in English scholarship as she rightly points out in her introduction and demonstrates by including the text of an email she received from the director of the Imperial War Museum in which he demonstrates total ignorance about any female auxiliaries used … Read more…

Bias in Academic History?

I got my latest copy of the SMH Journal of Military History a few weeks ago and am working my way through the articles.  The Journal always provides grist for at least one post, most of the time it is a thought provoking article that prompts me to post.  This time it is different.  There is a phrase in one of the articles that caused me to raise my eyebrows.  The article is:  Candice Shy Hooper, “The War That Made Hollywood: How the Spanish-American War Saved the U.S. Film Industry,” The Journal of Military History76 #1 (January 2012): 69-97.  The phrase is: “The newest form of mass entertainment in the … Read more…

De Re Militari is back up

Just a quick info post.

Anybody who has tried to follow the link to DeReMilitari on the sidebar of the blog in the past few weeks has discovered that Google says it is a malware hosting site.  They were hacked at the beginning of the month but are now back up.  They are having to completely rebuild their site because apparently the malware got them good.  So far they have their review section up because it was not affected by the hack.  The rest of their site should come back up over the next few weeks or months.

Glad to see them back they are an invaluable starting point for Medieval research.

Book Review: Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror by Bill Yenne

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I am someone who loves the ancients and loves reading the their stories. That being said, I am much more likely to read Caesar’s Commentaries or Plutarch’s Life of Caesar than a modern day biography derived from those sources. In fact, I have read all those ancient works, most in both English and the original Latin. This book was a pleasure to read anyway.  Bill Yenne has put together a comprehensive account of Caesar’s life that someone unfamiliar with Caesar’s exploits can … Read more…

Is History Paradigmatic?

The paradigm shift is a good phrase used in both science and history. It generally means something or event that changes the way the world is perceived. It is common in history books to read about this or that’s rise and then fall from the Roman Empire to Soviet Communism, but is that really a good description? I don’t think it is. Any serious student of history can demonstrate that nothing really comes to a crashing halt in history and almost every change is either evolutionary or that the signs are clear long before an event happens. There are things that have a revolutionary impact, but even then the impact … Read more…

Book Review: The Age of Total War: 1860-1945 by Jeremy Black

The notion that a book is “thought-provoking” is often thrown out there for works of non-fiction, and of those that are described as such that I have read most very seldom are.  This book is different, Dr. Black has written not so much a history as a treatise challenging historians, particularly military historians, to reexamine the history of conflict in the examined period with the idea of total war uppermost in their minds.  It seems a counter-intuitive thing to do at first, but he provides plenty of examples of why the wars under consideration were not total or were only partially total at best.  This includes World War II, which … Read more…

S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire, and Whether Men are Conditioned to Kill in Combat or Not.

I am currently reading The Roman Army at War 100 BC – AD 200 by Adrian Kieth Goldsworthy. In the final chapter he talks about the motivation of the Roman soldier to fight. What brings up this topic that starting on page 264 he references S.L.A. Marshall’s (hereafter SLAM) work Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command and repeats the claim that only 25% of men actively participate in combat, the rest being cowards in place at worst or half-hearted fighters at best.  Now, being a recently retired soldier who has seen combat, in Iraq I have several issues with the claim.  In fact, I completely dispute it and … Read more…

Knowledge of history and democracy

US Declaration-of-Independence

Text of Declaration of Independence Saw an interesting article today: Back to School, Back to U.S. History Basics from George Nethercutt is probably one of the best arguments I have read for emphasizing historical literacy in schools that I have seen in a long time. I have posted before about the general lack of civics knowledge in America and it is worth saying again and again that civics and history knowledge is essential to the functioning of American democracy. The argument that if the citizens of a country lack knowledge about the historical roots of their government and nation then they will not long keep either is very true. Is … Read more…