Tag military history

Hitler and Moscow, 1941: A Counter-Factual Speculation

Stephen G. Fritz— It is mid-September 1941. The unpredictable late summer weather in Russia has turned in Germany’s favor, as has the military situation. In late August, with the nightmarish and costly fighting near Smolensk finally concluded, Adolf Hitler has ordered German armored forces turned to the south where, in

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How an Epic Painting Became a Monumental Flop: The Perils of Art and Politics

Katie Hornstein — Powerful rulers have always relied on visual images to bolster their standing and seek public support for their military endeavors.  While these sorts of images can be broadly understood as propaganda, the question of their effectiveness as art in the service of power is anything but assured,

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Knowing How to Win at Acre

John D. Hosler— The oracle at Delphi advised, “Know Thyself,” and the rock band Rage Against the Machine screamed, “Know Your Enemy.” Which is more important for winning a war? Or rather, is it both? Military historians are keenly interested in the extent to which armies knew and understood the abilities

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Civil Wars

David Armitage— War is hell, the U.S. Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman is supposed to have said, but surely the only thing worse is civil war. On that fact, there has been general agreement across the centuries. Internal wars are felt to be more destructive than ones against external

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Stepping Back from the Front

Louis Barthas; Translated by Edward M. Strauss— In March 1918, after more than forty months on the front lines, under daily threat of violent death, disease, or dismemberment, French infantry corporal Louis Barthas succumbs to exhaustion and earns an evacuation order from a cynical, reluctant medical officer. He’s shunted out

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A Sociological Look at World War Combat

Alan Allport— The Second World War was not just one of the two greatest military efforts ever undertaken by the United Kingdom, but also, albeit quite by chance, one of its two greatest ever sociological experiments. Between 1939 and 1945, Britain mobilized around 5.8 million men and 640,000 women for

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A Volcano in Constant Eruption: Surviving the Hell of Verdun

One hundred years ago, in May 1916, the costliest, bloodiest battle of World War I’s Western Front – Verdun – had raged for three months without slackening. French and German troops marched resignedly into what they cursed as “The Furnace.”  300,000 lives would be lost in the 300-day ordeal. One

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Somme’s End

Edward Strauss— The Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, is generally said to have concluded on November 18 of that year. In a dispatch on December 29, 1916, General Douglas Haig, commander of the British Armies in France, summed up the battle’s accomplishments: “…The three main

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Wilfred Owen: WWI’s Peter Pan Poet

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. — from “Dulce et Decorum Est” (1917) As a fourteen-year-old boy, Wilfred Owen wore a crest that combined a globe with a cross, and

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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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