18 September 2007

Military History Carnival VI

I mark my 100th post by mentioning the existence of the Military History Carnival, which is having its sixth showinig. You'll find a very comprehensive overview of its contents at Armchair General.

I'm somewhat surprised to find the Carnival leading off with continuing rumblings in the Military History blogosphere about why one should study military history. One could easily point that question at any more specialized approach to history. I think the whole debate reflects a lack of academic self-confidence. When you look back 35 years or so, military history writing was dominated by the sort of fellows academics would regard as 'hack writers', many of whom had actual military or naval experience. They've mostly been driven out of the business by postgraduate students and junior academics. The effect has been to raise the standard of research somewhat, at some cost to readability. (Although one can always point to good examples.) It has also fractured the mass audience for military history books. Publishers produce more books, which sell in smaller numbers, and are desperate for any sort of tie-in that will help marketing. Meanwhile, every year military history academics graduate candidates who have books and articles to sell. They'd better start making more money so they can buy their colleagues' works.

No comments: