Academic journal article Military Review

Sharp Pens Sharpen Swords: Writing for Professional Publications

Academic journal article Military Review

Sharp Pens Sharpen Swords: Writing for Professional Publications

Article excerpt

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

--Chinese Proverb

Most modern writers prefer computers to pens, 21st-century swords are mainly ceremonial, and Thomas Edison's incandescent bulbs long ago replaced candles, but the title of this article and the quotation remain figuratively correct because intellectual pathfinders who shed light on politico-military problems and then suggest solutions perform invaluable services. The message to readers and writers is: It is never too early or too late to make your mark. I have selected the following 15 publications from nearly 100 outlets because they offer aspiring authors a rich menu of publication options.


The Infantry Journal, activated in 1904, was a typical trailblazer. (1) Charter members who gave that brainchild an auspicious start included two famous flag officers and two precocious second lieutenants. Major General Arthur MacArthur, Doug's daddy, wore a Medal of Honor; Major General Tasker Bliss culminated his career as the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) (1917-1918). Second Lieutenant George Catlett Marshall, who became CSA shortly before World War II, retired with five stars and later served as Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State; four-star General Walter Krueger, commissioned from the ranks, commanded the Sixth U.S. Army during all of its campaigns in the Southwest Pacific.

A 679-page anthology called The Infantry Journal Reader, published in 1943, reprinted 178 handpicked articles. (2) The list of authors includes many names that were little known in the early 1930s but now are illustrious: German Panzer leader General Heinz Guderian; U.S. Army General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, who headed the China-Burma-India theater during World War II; Flying Tigers leader "Colonel" Claire Chennault; Ole "Blood and Guts" General George Patton; General William Lee (the father of U.S. airborne forces); and British Captain B.H. Liddell Hart, an oft-quoted strategist. Harold Lamb, who later wrote 14 highly respected military histories, and Robert Strausz-Hupe, who founded the Foreign Policy Research Institute, are representive of standout civilians.

Forty other contributors to The Infantry Journal Reader might have become famous, but nobody ever will know because they hid behind ludicrous pseudonyms like Whitenred, Blackanblue, Stonecold, Tentage, Tenderhide, Trenchcoat, Chevron, Hungry, and Heelclicker, despite assurances that "the politics of an author makes no difference. Democrats, Republicans; New Deal, Old Deal; Right, Left, middle; so long as he has something to say about fighting war that makes sense, his article is printed." (3)

Current Torchbearers

The 15 contemporary U.S. torchbearers selected for comparison vary considerably with regard to frequency of publication, clientele, and content. Monthly magazines, for example, are better suited for hot topics than quarterlies; outlets that reach mainly parochial audiences contrast sharply with cosmopolitan competitors; while those that cast the widest nets potentially influence the most readers. Not all, for example, reach officials in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Department of State, national security agencies, academia, think tanks, research institutes, businesses, the news media, U.S. service schools, selected libraries, allied embassies, and military establishments abroad. The number of hard-copy subscribers is less important than in the fairly recent past because most on-line editions are free.

Air & Space Power Journal Air & Space Power Journal is an official publication of the U.S. Air Force, but opinions expressed therein need not reflect prevailing policies. On the contrary, its editor seeks innovative ideas about aerospace doctrine, strategy, tactics, force structure, readiness, and other matters of national defense. Assorted selections during 2005 reviewed Red Flag training exercises, aerial search and rescue operations, air base defense, and esoteric counterspace initiatives. …

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