Saturday, July 21, 2018

Booknotes: The American Military

New Arrival:
The American Military: A Concise History by Joseph T. Glatthaar (Oxford UP, 2018).

In The American Military: A Concise History, Joseph Glaathaar undertakes the task of condensing American military history from Jamestown through today in around 125 pages of narrative. Descriptive accounts of America's wars are discussed in chronological order and organized under the umbrella of big themes such as the early ideological debates over standing armies and the slow rise of professionalism during the eighteenth century.

From the description: "During the Revolutionary War, tension grew between local militias and a standing army. The Founding Fathers attempted to strike a balance, enshrining an army, navy, and a "well-regulated Militia" in the Constitution. The US soon witnessed the rise of a professional military, a boon to its successes in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. However, after the Civil War, the US soon learned that the purpose of a peacetime army is to prepare for war.

When war did arrive, it arrived with a vengeance, gutting the trenches of the Great War with effective innovations: tanks, planes, machine guns, and poison gas. The US embraced the technology that would win both world wars and change the nature of battle in the Second World War. The nuclear era brought encounters defined by stalemate--from the Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 9/11, the US has been frustrated by unconventional warfare, including terrorism and cyberwar, largely negating the technological advantage it had held. Glatthaar examines all these challenges, looking to the future of the U.S. military and its often proud and complicated legacy.
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