05 April 2008

Military History Worries (Again)

U.S News & World Report, the American newsweekly, has an article about whether military history is in decline on American campuses. Ostensibly, the statistics show that this is indeed the case. However, life is always more complicated than bare statistics, and the article acknowledges this, so it's worth reading.

I was touched by the quote at the end of the article, from Robert Citino, professor at Eastern Michigan University:
Someone's going to be writing books about war—there's a huge demand for it. I personally would rather it be written by a scholar, instead of a re-enactor or your friendly neighborhood war buff.

Since when did they become mutually exclusive?

1 comment:

Libertyship46 said...

There seems to be two things at play here. The first is that it's no secret that colleges in the United States have a left-wing hatred for anything military. One simply has to look at all of the ROTC programs that have been kicked off campuses to see what I'm talking about. It is ironic that, at one time, more naval officers (through the ROTC program) graduated from Columbia University than from the US Naval Academy. Today the ROTC isn't even allowed on campus at Columbia University. It is, therefore, no wonder that these same colleges are no longer offering courses in military history. But I'm sure there isn't a shortage of courses in "Women's Studies" or "African-American" culture, courses near and dear to the hearts of the liberal left.

As for Robert Citino's comment that Military History is best left to scholars, well, that's rubbish and just shows what snobs people in academia can be. Some of the most prolific military historians, such as Barbara Tuchman and William Manchester, got their start as journalists and they've produced some of the finest books out there on military history. They've won many awards and they've actually made military history interesting and exciting to read, which is why their books were huge best sellers. People in academia tend to write very dry history books, which is why they don't sell very well. There should be no "shame" in making military history interesting and readable, thereby stimulating even more interest in this field. I think college teachers who are military historians could learn a lot from the writing styles of those who are not a part of academia.