The State of Military History Part II

The most significant long-term trend for military historiography may be the emergence of “national security history"  a phrase coined by Edward Coffman in "The New American Military History," and Benjamin Cooling, in "Toward a More Usable Past: A Modest Plea for a Newer Typology of Military History," both published in the journal Military Affairs, now the Journal of the Society of Military History. The study of warfare can no longer be confined to military matters alone, but will almost always be integrated with political, economic, societal and cultural viewpoints. Although historians will continue to debate the level of influence of these factors on soldiers and strategy, the fact that warfare is too important to be left to the generals is no longer really in dispute. Warfare in the 21st century will involve all aspects of a country and proper military historiography must continue to adapt to remain relevant.

There are many encouraging signs that military history is gaining renewed respect in academic circles as well as increasing its military and public following. As the reality of global terrorism and conflict combine with the need to understand America’s recent military actions, the study of warfare is gaining some traction again at major universities. The result of military historians adapting to new research and historical methods, the new lines of inquiry in cultural, societal, and technical effects on warfare and militaries have broadened the appeal and potential for military historiography in an academic setting. Military history remains a legitimate and practical field within historiography. The recent trends underway assure a bright future of inquiry into this important field of human endeavor—“Historical examples clarify everything and also provide the best kind of proof in the empirical sciences. This is particularly true of the art of war.”

Hopefully this trend will continue....