History Headlines December 22, 2013: John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91

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John Eisenhower, Military Historian and Son of the President, Dies at 91

Source: NYT, 12-22-13

Mr. Eisenhower, the son of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the five-star general turned president, forged his own career in the Army and then chronicled the history of the military in numerous books….READ MORE

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History Buzz March 1, 2012: Glyn Harper: Massey University Professor aims to keep New Zealand war record straight

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Professor aims to keep war record straight

Source: Fairfax NZ News, 3-1-12

Glyn Harper

MURRAY WILSON/Fairfax NZ

TAKING NOTE: Massey University Professor Glyn Harper intends to see New Zealand get the mention it deserves.

A Massey University professor wants to ensure New Zealand does not get “swamped” by Australia when it comes to remembering their efforts during World War I.

Defence Studies Professor Glyn Harper has been asked to contribute to the revised second edition of a five-volume Encyclopedia of WWI. “It’s quite an honour, and I jumped at the chance. I think there weren’t too many mentions of New Zealand in the previous entries and this is an opportunity to change that.

“We tend to get swamped a little bit by Australia so I’m just going to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Prof Harper was contacted by the general editor of the publication last month, and asked to be on the editorial board. “And what that means is I will get to look at any entry that is relevant to Australia or New Zealand and check it for accuracy but also suggest areas they may want to look at … if there is anything missing in the encyclopedia pertaining to Australia or New Zealand.”…READ MORE

History Buzz November 27, 2011: Eliot Cohen: Canada won the War of 1812, U.S. historian admits

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HISTORY NEWS — 1812 BICENTENNIAL

Source: National Post, 11-27-11

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

A War of 1812 re-enactment at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, Ontario. Which side won the war has been long disputed.

In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812.

Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen, a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, writes in his just-published book Conquered Into Liberty that, “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”

And Cohen acknowledges that, “Americans at the time, and, by and large, since, did not see matters that way.”

The book also echoes a key message trumpeted by the federal Conservative government in recent weeks as it unveiled ambitious plans to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 over the next three years: that the successful fight by British, English- and French-Canadian and First Nations allies to resist would-be American conquerors — at battles such as Queenston Heights in Upper Canada and Chateauguay in Lower Canada — set the stage for the creation of a unified and independent Canada a half-century later.

“If the conquest of (Canada) had not been an American objective when the war began, it surely had become such shortly after it opened,” Cohen argues in the book. “Not only did the colony remain intact: It had acquired heroes, British and French, and a narrative of plucky defense against foreign invasion, that helped carry it to nationhood.”

In an interview with Postmedia News, Cohen observed that, “all countries have to have these myths — not in the sense of falsehoods, but really compelling stories that are, in fact, rooted in some kind of truth, even if they’re not the complete truth.

“And the War of 1812 gives Canada that,” he continued. “It gives you some foundation myths. It gives you Laura Secord. It gives you heroes.”

Cohen, who advised the Bush Administration on geopolitical strategy from 2007 to 2009, said the War of 1812 “was the last point at which the United States thought really seriously about trying to take Canada by force of arms.”

It’s clear, he added, that “there were a lot of senior American leaders who thought the outcome of the war would be the forcible annexation of Canada — thinking, not entirely without reason, that there would be some segment of the (Canadian) population that would welcome that.”…READ MORE

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Peter Berkowitz: Our Elite Schools Have Abandoned Military History

The study of war elucidates some of mankind’s noblest virtues and bitterest vices. So why do colleges seem afraid of it?

Source: WSJ, 4-30-11

The Union’s victory in the Civil War, whose opening shots were fired by Confederate forces 150 years ago this month, established that the United States, which had been conceived in liberty, would endure as a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Many college students will hear in that assertion echoes of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Few will know much about the bloody three-day battle of Gettysburg that Lincoln’s revered speech commemorated.

There is little chance today’s college students will study the strategy that underlay Gen. Robert E. Lee’s decision to lead the Army of Northern Virginia on a second invasion of the North, or the tactics that Gen. George Gordon Meade and his commanders of the Army of the Potomac adopted to repel the attack. They are probably no better versed in any other Civil War battle.

One reason for this ignorance is that our bastions of liberal education barely teach military affairs. No doubt the same post-Vietnam hostility to all things military that impelled faculties and administrations to banish ROTC from campus is a major factor.

To be sure, military history continues to command popular audiences through best-selling books and television documentaries. It is taught at the service academies and flourishes at a few, mostly public, universities including the University of North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas A&M and the University of Wisconsin.

Where it is taught, courses in military history attract impressive numbers of students. But as military historian Edward M. Coffman (professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin) notes, only about 5% of America’s approximately 14,000 history professors identify military history as an interest.

The study of military affairs has not disappeared from the college curriculum, yet the neglect is dramatic. In history departments, survey courses may discuss the social, political and economic dimensions of wars. But the traditional topics of military history—how wars begin, how they are waged, and how they end; the cultural foundations, the recruitment and training of military forces; logistics, tactics and strategy—receive scant attention.

As for courses that focus on military affairs, one would be hard-pressed to find more than one or two courses offered during the 2010-2011 academic year among the approximately 80 courses that Harvard’s history department listed for undergraduates, the 150 undergraduate courses listed by Yale’s history department, and the 130 classes listed by Stanford’s history department. Yale’s wonderful “Studies in Grand Strategy”—an interdisciplinary course developed by Profs. John Lewis Gaddis, Charles Hill and Paul Kennedy—stands nearly alone….READ MORE

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