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The American Military: A Concise History

Joseph T. Glatthaar

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Oxford University Press
15 August 2018
History; History of the Americas; Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900; Military history; American Civil War; Military history: post WW2 conflicts
Since the first English settlers landed at Jamestown with the legacy of centuries of European warfare in tow, the military has been an omnipresent part of America. In The American Military: A Concise History, Joseph T. Glatthaar explores this relationship from its origins in the thirteen colonies to today's ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

Colonial Americans struggled to reconcile the rights of the citizenry to form local militias with the existence of a standing army, viewing it as a threat to civil liberty. This tension played out during the Revolution as General Washington's rag-tag band of "Continentals" was largely neglected by the public as it bravely faced the British redcoats. The Founding Fathers attempted to strike a balance, enshrining an army, navy, and a "well regulated Militia" in the Constitution. As such, the United States soon witnessed the rise of a professional military, with its commitment to selectivity and expertise, a boon to the nation's successes in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War to come.

This system would give rise to great generals such as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, both graduates of West Point, and great naval commanders such as Matthew Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. As a testament to this system, the officer corps would lead the immense armies and ships of the Union and Confederacy with skill and professionalism. However, the United States quickly dismantled the world's finest army and navy after the war - but 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 U.S. military strategically embraced the technology that would win both world wars. From the great aircraft carriers of the Pacific, the Sherman tanks of the Allied front, to the finality of the atomic bomb, this turn to technology changed the nature of battle in the Second World War.

The nuclear era brought encounters defined by stalemate - from the damaging Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam, and an all-time high in hostility towards the military during Vietnam, to the current engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the events of 9/11, the United States has been frustrated by unconventional warfare, including terrorism and cyberwar, largely negating the technological advantage it has held since the Second World War. Glatthaar examines this challenge, looking to the future of the U.S. military and its often proud and complicated legacy.
By:   Joseph T. Glatthaar
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 213mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 15mm
Weight:   330g
ISBN:   9780190692810
ISBN 10:   0190692812
Pages:   152
Publication Date:   15 August 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joseph T. Glatthaar is Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has written eight books and numerous articles and has received and many awards, including the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement from the Society for Military History. A past president of the Society for Military History, he is the author of General Lee's Army: A History of the Army of Northern Virginia and Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers.

Reviews for The American Military: A Concise History

In just 127 small pages of text, Glatthaar, a historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gallops through American military history from the French and Indian War all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. Impressively, he manages to provide a lot more than battle histories, deftly delving into technological advances, social changes and political contexts. Anyone looking for a place to begin understanding the military history of our country would do well to start here. --homas E. Ricks, New York Times Book Review Glatthaar delivers a masterpiece of compression, covering US arms from the colonial beginnings to yesterday in four chapters and 127 pages. --Choice An essential introduction to the development of the US army... What Glatthaar gains through brevity and accessibility, he does not lose in terms of detailed examination and cutting insight... Well-written and informative, this book is a delight to read for amateurs and experts alike; highly recommended. --Military History Matters


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