Military History

Presidential Politics and the Symbolic Soldier

Jonathan H. Ebel—   “I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people.” —Donald J. Trump   Every four years, presidential election cycles give Americans an opportunity to witness and to participate in sustained, often spectacular displays of civil religion. Campaign

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Americans Fight and Die in France in World War I

Edward Strauss— One hundred years ago, young Americans were fighting alongside the Allies in the trenches and No Man’s Land of northern France. America would not enter World War I until April 1917, and American forces would not fully engage in combat until more than a year later, in 1918.

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Who Were the Highland Soldiers of the British Army?

Matthew P. Dziennik— Close your eyes and try to conjure an image of an eighteenth-century Highlander. What comes to mind? Barren glens populated by windswept warriors, clad from head to toe in tartan plaids, highly skilled and heavily armed—and equally heavily bearded. Or maybe a diet of Hollywood movies and

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The Life of Louis Barthas

Louis Barthas kept vivid journals of his service as a French corporal in World War I. In honor of his birthday today, July 14th (which is also Bastille Day!), the following is an excerpt from the 1978 introduction to Poilu, his collected notebooks. Rémy Cazals— Louis Barthas was born on

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Winston Churchill’s Beach Reading: His Top Ten Books

Jonathan Rose— More than most politicians, Winston Churchill was an insatiable reader. He loved to schmooze with authors, and what he read profoundly shaped his political worldview. He never actually published a “Top Ten” list of his favorite books—but if he had, it might have been something like this: The

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Browned Off and Bloody Minded: The British Soldier in WWII

More than three-and-a-half million men served in the British Army during the Second World War, the vast majority of them civilians who had never expected to become soldiers and had little idea what military life, with all its strange rituals, discomforts and dangers, might entail. Alan Allport, author of Browned Off and

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Lessons Not Learned: Covert Operations since the Cold War

Karen M. Paget— While writing Patriotic Betrayal, which chronicles a major Cold War covert operation with the U.S. National Student Association, I began a file in which I collected evidence of renewed covert activities in the late 1990s. The newspaper clips came from different parts of the globe in little

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Albert Einstein: Scientist, Pacifist, Zionist

Steven Gimbel— When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint meeting of the US Congress, one could almost see the ghost of Albert Einstein in the room. Netanyahu was urging a tough stance in negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program, citing its existence as an existential threat

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The Siege of Bastogne Up Close and Personal

In the harsh winter of 1944-45, the month-long battle for Bastogne, a town with a peacetime population of 4,000 and seven roads, claimed 23,000 American and 25,000 German lives. To commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the siege, which was part of the larger Battle of the Bulge, historian Peter Schrijvers, author of

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Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker

A “Must-Read” pick for the New York Post and a Daily Beast “Hot Reads” title!   As discussed in our March”WAR!” theme, it remains of the utmost importance to consider the individual experiences of soldiers. Those on the front lines provide a personal narrative – one that is often separate

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