America as a Military Power: From the American Revolution to the Civil War

America as a Military Power: From the American Revolution to the Civil War

America as a Military Power: From the American Revolution to the Civil War

America as a Military Power: From the American Revolution to the Civil War

Synopsis

Noted military historian Jeremy Black examines American military exceptionalism with the critical eye of a foreign scholar. This book utilizes contemporary British commentary to contextualize American actions within a global perspective during a critical period.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is a bold one, and it is only possible thanks to the excellent work already produced by others. I want to consider American military history in a fascinating period—from the struggle for independence to the end of the Civil War, but to do so from a particular angle, that of a foreigner, with all the drawbacks that that entails. In doing so, I am not in any way querying the value of American scholarship on the subject, but simply suggesting that it would be valuable to re-examine what is generally presented as American military exceptionalism from a foreign viewpoint. American exceptionalism is understood according to the distinctive combination of political, social, intellectual, and physical factors, including potential threats, that shaped and were shaped by the greater American culture.

The British viewpoint is especially valuable for three reasons: the British fought two wars with the Americans, contemporary British commentators followed American developments with interest, and Britain, like the United States, had no conscription. Neither country conformed to the autocratic model of the Continental European state nor to their large standing army. Instead, both Britain and the United States had representative assemblies and small standing (permanent) armies. The particular dimension I offer is that of the contextualization of American military developments and wars. This enables both to be considered by comparing them with those elsewhere in the Western world. I have written extensively on military history, British, European, and further afield, before, during and after this period. Hopefully others will pursue this approach to offer full-scale comparative studies as well as a history of America in this period from the perspective of military and related issues.

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