“More than most professions, the military is forced to depend upon intelligent interpretation of the past for signposts charting the future.... The facts derived from historical analysis he [the soldier] applies to conditions of the present and the proximate future, thus developing a synthesis of appropriate method, organization, and doctrine.... These principles know no limitation of time. Consequently the Army extends its analytical interest to the dust-buried accounts of wars long past as well as to those still reeking wit the scent of battle. It is the object of the search that dictates the field for its pursuit.”1 --General Douglas MacArthur
I want to first state that the syllabus ...view middle of the document...
The quote above by the infamous General MacArthur is one of many that effectively demonstrates the importance attributed to military research. Military historians employed at military institutes in the modern age assess the tactics employed by the past commanders in order to learn more about the “leadership, command, logistics, and the working of the commander's mind.”4
Essentially, they sought to nvestigate what made some military and political leaders more successful over others. Knowing that a flank was performed in a military battle alone is not enough for these military historians, they want to know learn why this flank was decided, and why this tactic was successful. To them, history is made by human beings, and, in the case of military history specifically, they are interested in “people under pressure, and usually in circumstances of chaos, danger, and incomplete and frequently conflicting information.”5 The study of history is important for the military since it contributes to their “knowledge of the human experience” and from this this vast pool of information they are able to “render judgement.” Military institutions incorporate military history as part of soldier's training in order to narrow the gap between experience and knowledge. For them. history is practically used for gaining experience.6
In thinking broadly about issues and themes in historiography, I start by examining The Journal of Military History. Established in June of 1933, the Journal had undergone several name changes: Journal of the American Militray History Foundation (1937-1938); Journal of the American Military Institute (1939-1940); Military Affairs (1941-1988); and Journal of Military History (1989-present). The forward and editorials were invaluable in that they devoted space to historiographical consideration. The very first foreword in particular reveals the journals' “exclusive” purpose which espouses historiographical considerations:
It [the journal] is to serve as a medium for the free interchange of constructive and stimulating thought among members. In accomplishing this it must be comprehensive enough to embrace all of the varied fields of interest; it must be scholarly enough to inspire confidence, yet tolerant enough to encourage the work of the student; formal enough to command respect, yet popular enough to invite interest. Finally in the matter of history it must confine itself largely to the facts, leaving their interpretation and use to its readers.7
For a foreword that was published in 1937, the block quote suggests a remarkably forward thinking in respect to the themes and issues in historiography. The journal intended to broaden the criteria for participation from both scholars and students alike, and cater to both macadamia, and, more importantly, to the public. Studies produced by professional historians that are only meant for the scholarship community is extremely detrimental to the subject and runs the risk of “perishing.”8 ...