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.

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Book Review: The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, is one of the best economic histories I have read.  It seeks to be a global history of money and does a good job of it.  It is somewhat tilted towards Europe and Western countries but only because that is where the majority of financial innovation has come from, especially in the last 300-400 years.last 400 years. What I found especially interesting were his explanations of the way sophisticated financial instruments actually work.  It often seems as though investment and investing have a language specifically designed to confuse and confound the layman.  Dr. Ferguson’s explanations of derivatives and other financial instruments were understandable … 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 … Read more…

Book Review: Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe by Steven D. Mercatante

[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] At first glance Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe is another of the rehashing’s of WWII in the East and West that have become so popular since the fall of communism in the 1990’s and the opening of previously closed Russian archives.   That first glance would be wrong.   Steven Mercatante has produced a very well written history of the war in the East that goes to the heart of why the Eastern … Read more…

Sun-Tzu & Clausewitz: A Comparison

Both Sun-Tzu and Clausewitz have something to offer for the serious student of warfare.   The biggest distinction between the two seems to be their different approaches to the art of war.   Sun-Tzu advocates a more subtle and indirect approach to the art of war while Clausewitz advocates a more direct approach. The essence of Sun-Tzu’s philosophy seems to be winning through superior generalship.   He almost seems to advocate a type of warfare by superior maneuver similar to that practiced in Renaissance Italy.   He preaches the avoidance of pitched battles unless the attacker is assured of winning.   This view is summed up in chapter III verse … Read more…

Sun-Tzu, Clausewitz, and Naval Warfare

The work of neither Sun Tzu nor Clausewitz is adequate to describe naval warfare except in the most general terms. While it is true that until recent times warfare on both land and sea was largely two dimensional, there are factors at work in naval warfare that defy explanation in either Sun Tzu or Clausewitz. The vagaries of wind and weather played a much greater role in medieval naval warfare than on land. The weather was often a determining factor in whether an engagement happened at all. The naval commander was at the mercy of the weather during the age of sail, something that ground commanders did not have to … Read more…

Book Review: The German Way of War by Robert M. Citino

This book is an interesting read to say the least, Dr. Citino makes the case that there is a specifically German “way of war”. That way, is what he calls operational maneuver. He traces the development of this “way of war” from the 17th century battles of the Frederick William I, the “Great Elector” of electoral Brandenburg and scion of the Hohenzollern Dynasty through to the end of World War II and the final defeat of Nazi Germany. I am not myself so convinced that the discussion should end there based on my experience talking to current German soldiers about war and battle during partnership exercises while I have been … Read more…

The German Way of War?

Is there such a thing? That question hit me this morning as I was reading a book review in an old copy of the Journal of Military History. The book in question was Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (Modern War Studies), by Robert M. Citino and it was reviewed in the January 2009 issue of the Journal. The reviewer made mention that one of the prevalent theories about the German army is that in World War II they fought a completely different war than the one they were designed for and that goes far to explaining the ultimate German defeat. The argument is that the German … Read more…

The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 9

Well, I figured it is time for another update.   I have made the first round of changes to my rough draft and turned them back in and my thesis made it past my professor and is now in the hands of the second reader.   It went up to the second reader Tuesday and I should get it back sometime next week for corrections, if any.   If there are no corrections needed it will go the department Chair and then I will get a final grade for the thesis and the thesis class.   At that point I will be done with my thesis and should only need … Read more…

The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 8

I got my rough draft back from my Thesis professor this morning with the first round of requested corrections.   It actually looks much better than I thought it would.   There are not as many corrections as I expected and so I will start working on revising it tonight after I get home from work.   I just quickly glanced at it this morning.   I guess it will take me two or three days to make the requested corrections. After I make corrections and resubmit it as a final version, it will go to a second reader in the history department for a final round of changes.   … Read more…

Postmodernism and Historiography

I figured I would touch on post-modernism/post-structuralism and my personal opinion of the phenomenon because I am seeing it more and more in contemporary academics.   Let me preface this whole post by saying up-front that I think the whole post-modernist movement is a bunch of hogwash that has little if anything to add to the discipline of history. I was first introduced to the phenomenon of post-modernism/post-structuralism in my very first Graduate level class, which was Historiography.   you can almost say it was hate at first sight because from the get-go I have been struck with the way post-modernists obfuscate and use odd language to describe their concepts.   … Read more…

I Suppose I Can Consider Myself Published Now

I got my first article published this past week.   I belong to the Society for Military History and in a recent society newsletter, they asked for people who had recently worked in an archive to submit a guide.   I visited the Austrian Kriegsarhive last spring while doing research for my MA thesis and emailed them contact person that I would be interested in providing a guide for the Kriegsarchive.   I got a positive response and pulled out my notes and recollections of my visit and over the next week or so, I wrote up a guide.   It has now been posted on the SMH website at: … Read more…

The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 6

I just finished writing the rough draft of my MA Thesis.   It is currently sitting right around 73 pages.   I would guess I will end up adding about 4-5 more ages as I do my final revisions before submitting the rough draft this coming Sunday when it is due.   It was  both easier and harder to write than I thought it would be.   I also am very curious to see what comments my thesis adviser will have.   I already have comments on my intro ad first chapter and will spend the rest of the week incorporating the changes he suggested into the rough draft.   … Read more…