In Defence of Military History

Excellent analysis. My contention has always been that studying military history is as likely to cause any more wars as studying oncology will cause more cancer.


This post follows on from an entry by Dr. Matthew Ford and Dr James Kitchen on Chilcot and the Politics of Britain’s Military History.


The notion of an academy remote from public discourse and disinterested in government policy is an attractive stereotype. Aspects of the academic discipline of history could certainly produce such an impression. There is a strong body of thought within certain areas of History that considers any attempt to use the past to inform current debate as bordering on ‘instrumentalising’ previous experience. For some scholars the past was a simply an entirely different world, one which ought to be understood solely in its own terms and not compared to the present lest such an endeavour lead to inaccurate and misleading deductions.

This argument has always appeared less convincing to those engaged in the ‘traditional’ areas of historical enquiry – political, diplomatic and military…

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Balancing past and present: Edward Mead Earle and Makers of Modern Strategy

The latest edition (1986) edited by Peter Paret, replaced Hitler with the Nuclear Age, but maintains the same vision and has similar power. Well worth the trouble.



This post is based on my article which appears in the most recent issue of The Journal of Military History.

It might be considered that in producing a significant contribution to scholarship, a scholar ensures his or her own reputation. Yet this is not always the case. Edward Mead Earle, Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton for twenty years from 1934, has long languished in obscurity. This is despite the fact that his 1943 edited volume Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler proved to be a seminal text, read by a multitude of scholars – as well as soldiers – in the years following his premature death in 1954. Notable amongst this cohort was Sir Michael Howard, who recounts in his autobiography that when preparing to take a lectureship at the War Studies Department of King’s College London, UK…

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