How Do Military Historians Explain War?

2604 words - 10 pages

How do military historians explain war? To answer a question like this, one must look to the scholarship. However, works alone cannot explain the total scope of war, which means that historians take from the scholarship, and input what they deem necessary to the explanation of war. The Western experiences of war shaped the outcome of further study into warfare. Authors like Victor Davis Hanson, John Lynn, John Keegan, Martin van Creveld, and Niall Ferguson explain in detail to what extent the Western way of war is superior to any other.
The goal in studying the Western way of war revolves around the concept of superiority in warfare. The comparison and distinction of Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture (2001), and John A. Lynn, Battle (2003), emphasized their overwhelming background in military research. Both historians possessed the adequate means to tell an incredible military story of which Hanson excelled at the ancient level with Greco-Roman history and Lynn as an expert of European history of the eighteenth and nineteenth century’s between the periods of Louis XIV and Napoleon. Hanson concluded that the Western way of war is far superior to that of the Eastern, and he begun his research with the Greek civilization and their early form of democracy. Alternatively, Lynn centered his research on the influences and/or limitations of the political and social aspects of warfare including that of the East.
The greatest single work to influence either historian was John Keegan’s book, A History of Warfare (1993). Lynn acknowledged the importance of Keegan’s thesis, but Hanson followed in the Western superiority theme originated by Keegan. Hanson published his work in 2001 before the 911 attacks and added an afterward-in response following the first publication. Lynn came two years later in 2003, and he did not necessarily agree with either Keegan or Hanson in their approach in the dominance of the West in warfare. Hanson and Lynn coincided with each other in publication, but both paled in comparison to Keegan in terms of a classic work.
Both works dealt with military history on a broad scale. Hanson focused on specific battles for each chapter that ranged from ancient Greece to the Tet offensive in Vietnam. In both titles, the word culture is stated. Culture is the overwhelming theme in Lynn’s book. The structure of Lynn in comparison to Hanson was organized well and he achieved what Hanson did not in his approach. The styles differ greatly, from easy to read Lynn and a more process Hanson. Hanson reached for a broader audience in terms of writing a popular history much like a textbook. Lynn, as well, considers the public audience in his approach, but his book is easier read, Lynn understands the importance of being consistent and concise.
In contrast, Hanson and Lynn’s completely edified the work of military historians. The strengths of Lynn incline his concise approach to the debate that Hanson presented. The...

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