Military History

Military History

Military History

Military History

Excerpt

Any discussion of modern military historiography meets at the outset with some difficulty in defining its subject. Military history has always been with us. Indeed, probably a large majority of all the pages in which man has sought to recover and record his past deal with military violence and the waging of wars; and the principles on which military history is to be differentiated from the general history of human folly and conflict are not immediately apparent.

Military history can scarcely be confined to the works of professional military men and specialists in military affairs, for a great deal of competent military history has been written--from Gibbon to Toynbee--by amateurs of war. It cannot be restricted to chronicles of battle action and campaign strategies, for these things offer little more than the raw material for what is supposed to be its major contribution, an understanding of the theory and practice of war. Still more, the study of military history cannot be separated from the study of "military science"; it cannot exclude theoreticians like Machiavelli or Clausewitz any more than the technicians who have amassed so much of what passes as "military" literature. If military history is considered to be the technical study of the art and practice of war, one is in difficulties with the word "technical" while the limits remain uncomfortably vague. Yet where a rough rule of thumb seems all that can be established, this one will perhaps do as well as any other.

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