The study of the history of war and the military has undergone a profound change in the 1980s. It has become for the first time a legitimate area of professional expertise for academic historians. Prior to 1960, military history was regarded primarily as the domain of a small number of historians associated largely with military academies. Their purpose was to teach future officers the strategy and tactics of past wars and battles in order to prepare them for military careers. Outside of the military academies there was a small number of historians working in military history, who were regarded by their colleagues as antiquarians. Indeed they often were antiquarians, consumed with the desire to learn the smallest details of the tactics of battle, old weaponry, and so forth.
As a result of both the Vietnam War and a strong pacifist movement among intellectuals in America and western. Europe, military history fell into even greater disfavor on college campuses in the 1960s. The very popular new social history, in which the lowest, most powerless levels of society were regarded as the most worthy subjects of study, had no place for military history. However, the changing mood of Western society and the recognition that ignoring the military was producing a higlily inaccurate account of the past has led to vast growth of interest in the subject. One real benefit of the historical trends of the previous twenty years is that the techniques of the new social history are being applied to the study of war and the military. Armies are now being studied as social institutions; the question of what has made men fight is being studied through the principles of modern psychology; and investigations into the past economic impact of the military and war are being undertaken. Military history is moving for the first time into the mainstream of the historical profession.
Far more colleges and universities are now offering courses in military history, but the production of textbooks for these courses has lagged far behind. This work is intended to be a textbook for a college-level course on military history up to the French Revolution, or for the first part of a general survey of military histon. Most such courses are placed at the