Academic journal article Military Review

The Embattled Past: Reflections on Military History

Academic journal article Military Review

The Embattled Past: Reflections on Military History

Article excerpt

THE EMBATTLED PAST: Reflections on Military History

Edward M. Coffman, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2014, 201 pages, $36.00

Award-winning historian Edward M. Coffman is one of our most distinguished American military scholars. In The Embattled Past he weaves together his personal journey with insightful military history articles. More importantly, this book is a collection of his articles spanning from 1977 to 2006, each dealing with an aspect of Army social history, or providing a discussion on military history by one of its master artisans.

Until the early years of the twentieth century, most military history fell into what historians derisively refer to today as drum-and-trumpet military history. In an effort to resolve this issue, historians, including Theodore Roosevelt, attempted to make military history broader and more factually based. Their efforts led to more serious efforts at recording military history that, according to military historian Sir Basil Liddell Hart, were to provide "us with the opportunity to profit by the stumbles and tumbles of our forerunners" Additionally, Coffman helped usher in a new approach, termed as "new military history" or "war and society"--a post-World War II shift from focusing on combat history to examining broader historical relationships between war and society.

The Embattled Past provides thirteen of Coffman's previous works. Coffman added a new introduction that examined the evolution of military history during his career and his personal journey to become an internationally recognized military historian. …

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