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U.S. Military History


Klonoa

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Hey guys!
My history program doesn't really specialize in U.S. military history, and I'm looking for a community to discuss military history books, articles, as well as military historians and military historical actors, events, and policies. So, I have decided to create this forum to do just that, if that is ok? I hope we discuss our different interests in U.S. military history.

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Phillips O'Brien just published a book in 2015 on WWII titled How the War Was Won.  Understanding the Second World War as a war of competing industrial systems, his argument was that production levels and choices about how to manage materiel rather than allocation of manpower served as the best measure of where each state put forth the greatest effort and where they saw the greatest threat.  By this metric, he argues that Stalingrad, while still tragic and not without great sacrifice, was not the pivotal moment that so many scholars and theoreticians see it as.  Instead, he argues that the air and sea battles were, if not pivotal, far more significant to the outcome of the war than anything that happened on land, and Russia's contribution towards victory in Europe was secondary to that of Britain and the United States.  

What do you think of the foundation of his argument that the human cost was completely secondary to the cost in terms of materiel in terms of understanding the war?  While the argument's logic makes sense to me, particularly considering the general understanding of WWII as industrial scale war, I still have trouble on a gut level with accepting that basic premise.

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Hey there,

My work isn't military history, per se, but my masters focus and thesis was on religion and war, specifically World War I. I wrote about the war on the homefront, which included actions by military intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies. Peripherally, I am interested in the military history of the American Civil War, but again, homefront issues during the war often interest me more than the battles. 

I'll probably be switching my focus to environmental history for the PhD (I applied to four programs for environmental history, two on religion and war), but even then, I would be interested in studying the environmental history of World War I, especially in the United States.

Edited by Josh J.
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My focus is more related to military policies - domestic military policies. I'm really interested in military welfare policies and institutions, military integration policies and how these policies have impacted success of servicewomen, racial minority service-members, and the military overall. There is a book that was released in October 2015 titled The Rise of the Military Welfare State by Jennifer Mittelstadt of Rutgers University. It is about how the Army began to expand as a welfare institution during the Reagan administration while the social welfare institutions in the United States were shrinking. I have not actually read the book yet, but I have it prepped and waiting on my coffee table. I can't wait to dig into it.

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On February 21, 2016 at 3:05 PM, Klonoa said:

My focus is more related to military policies - domestic military policies. I'm really interested in military welfare policies and institutions, military integration policies and how these policies have impacted success of servicewomen, racial minority service-members, and the military overall. 

I've actually got an article on the relationship between spouses' feelings of connection with their military spouse's unit and that units degree of readiness/performance saved somewhere on my computer.  If you're interested, I can try to track it down for you.

Wasn't there a member of the Joint Chiefs of staff who warned (within the past few years) that the DoD was at risk of becoming a benefits organization that occasionally fights wars rather than a war fighting organization with benefits?

Edited by SunshineLolipops
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On 2/21/2016 at 3:05 PM, Klonoa said:

My focus is more related to military policies - domestic military policies. I'm really interested in military welfare policies and institutions, military integration policies and how these policies have impacted success of servicewomen, racial minority service-members, and the military overall. There is a book that was released in October 2015 titled The Rise of the Military Welfare State by Jennifer Mittelstadt of Rutgers University. It is about how the Army began to expand as a welfare institution during the Reagan administration while the social welfare institutions in the United States were shrinking. I have not actually read the book yet, but I have it prepped and waiting on my coffee table. I can't wait to dig into it.

Have you listened to Mittelstadt on the podcast Who Makes Cents? It's a discussion of this book so it might be kind of redundant for you but I really enjoyed it. 

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A couple short essays on the merits of studying military history and some of the dangers of applying that study to modern conflicts.

http://defenceindepth.co/2016/02/11/research-dispatch-from-sydney-new-directions-in-war-and-history/

http://www.thestrategybridge.com/the-bridge/2014/9/30/the-instrumentalisation-of-history

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Another recent release is Charissa J. Threat's Nursing Civil Rights: Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps (2015). I have not read the book, but I came across it a months ago while I was researching for my thesis. If anyone is interested in race and gender in the military, Brenda L. Moore is the leading scholar on black women in the United States armed forces. Judith Hicks Stiehm looks more at gender, specifically women. 

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I recommend that interested parties should not use this thread as a catch to share titles and tips about rising stars. Instead, I respectfully suggest that individuals seriously interested in the study of professional academic military/naval/aerospace history do what professional academic historians generally do:

  1. define the boundaries of debate over time (the forest) while simultaneously,
  2. discuss how specific scholars and their works (the trees) change the debates over time, and
  3. connect the forest to larger landscapes being explored in other fields of history.

What follows are a few questions that may be of us to readers interested in the approach proposed in this post. Please consider the questions as a group--the overlap is intentional.

  • What is military history (broadly conceived to include naval and aerospace history) and how does it differ from other types of historical study?
  • What was "new" about the "new" military history?
  • In what ways are the study of military history relevant today?
  • Are military historians at a disadvantage in the academic job market and, if so, what can be done to address the disadvantages?

Four suggested works

#HTH

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  • 1 month later...

Do anyone know which schools have the best PhD military history program? I heard that University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a faculty of great military historians, but that is all I have been told. The school I'm attending for my masters has only a non-tenured military historian who does not specializes in US military history, he just teaches it.

Edited by Klonoa
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32 minutes ago, Klonoa said:

Do anyone know which schools have the best PhD military history program? I heard that University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a faculty of great military historians, but that is all I have been told. The school I'm attending for my masters has only a non-tenured military historian who does not specializes in US military history, he just teaches it.

Ohio State has a solid program.  This site run by the Society of Military Historians is also helpful: http://www.smh-hq.org/grad/guide.html.  @Sigaba could probably make some of the more informed recommendations.  I would recommend thinking seriously about how your research interests in military history fit into the greater historiographical trends at the moment, particularly as it applies to landing a job, whether it's tenure track, DoD historian, or otherwise after you graduate.

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