Citino-“Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction”

Citino-“Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction”

In this article, Citino discusses the historiography of military history. He describes the field of military history as one that is very big publicly, but rather small in academia. He breaks those who study military history into three groups: “war and society” scholars, traditional operations historians, and scholars who “use the newest trends in historical inquiry to the study of military affairs in their broadest sense,” (1070-1071). He then goes on to describe what different groups have done for military history.

Citino focuses mainly on the “war and society” scholars that he also refers to as “new military history” although the field has been around for a couple decades. This group focused on broadening the military history field beyond an analysis of just the battle itself and studying the connections between wars and the societies affected by them. He talks about historians such as Fred Anderson, Donald Shaffer, and Chester Hearn. All three of these men have written books that go beyond, the war itself to study the effects and influences of the societies and people involved. They discuss themes such as racial influences in the civil war and American soldiers imprisoned by the Japanese.

The author then goes on to discuss how war and society was discussed by other historians. He specifically mentions historians who study the medieval period and their research on the connection between military developments and feudalism. This idea was developed by Heinrich Brunner and is a older example of the study between war and the societies affected by it. He discusses the Military Revolution, which is the evolution of the study of military history. This evolution occurred over a long period of time and hit the field at different points.

He also discusses the contributions of traditional operations historians. This sub-field studies the systematic aspects of military history. He states that this sub-field has made some of the greatest contributions to military history. Citino presents several works that were a part of this movement that reshaped the study of different events; one he focused on what the idea of German unification. Citino explains that not only is this sub-field important to military history, but that it is beneficial to the entire field of history.

He then goes on to discuss the last sub-field. This group analyzes military history with a focus on culture, or rather, how culture may have affected historical writings. Historical writings are almost never without a least a small amount of bias. This school of history discusses the idea of what may have been left out of historical texts due to these biases. One specific example that Citino cites Carol Reardon’s book on Gettysburg. This battle and the  days following it are an important part of our history. However, there is a question of how our culture affected its initial writing and how our account of that event has since been affected. In this book, Reardon analyzes the accounts from people on both sides of that event along with historical texts written since then to analyze how the presentation has changed over time.

The divide between “new” and “old” military is becoming more and more apparent over time. Each field is important in their own way and one without the other would be an incomplete analysis of military history. Today, Citino would describe military history as one that give equal attention the cultural, social, and technical aspects of the field.


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