Secondary Source Analysis

Cole Hogan

Citino, Robert M. 20. “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction.” American
Historical Review 112, no. 4 2007: 1070-1090.

In the essay “Review Essay Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction”, published in October 2007, Robert M. Citino presents what non-military historians perceive to be the three struggling fields of military history. This trend among historians is counter to public interest in military history continuing to rise. In the review, he presents three fields of military history: “War and Society”(1070), “Operational Military History”(1070), and “Memory and Culture”(1071). Citino writes this essay to show other historians that military history is not struggling as much as they perceived it to be. He cites many sources to show that other military historians are still producing great work and that military history extends far past the general battlefields.

Citino begins by saying that the field of military history has been struggling for the past several decades. He says that the field itself is struggling amongst historians, yet still growing more popular among the American public, “While military history dominates the airwaves, however, its academic footprint continues to shrink”(1070). This essay was also published in the American Historical review, and in the footnotes on the bottom of page 1070 he dedicates the essay to the men and women of the Society for Military History and expresses gratitude towards them for the annual meeting that the Society had earlier in 2007. Given the publication and dedication of this essay, it is easy to deduce he is not trying to reach the average reader, but instead is trying to reach other non-military historians and inform them about the broadening field of military history as opposed to its dying.

The War and Society field is the first to be examined. This field is presented as newer than that of operational history. Citino gives many examples of books written from the same viewpoint, most of which are published from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s even though they cover a range of topics from POW camps during World War II, to African Americans serving in the Union Navy during the Civil War. When talking about these sources, Citino goes into great detail with describing how the source portrays society and how it influenced the war around it. He presents this field to appeal to social historians to inform them that studying the societies of countries during wartime is important to understanding the motives of war in the first place.

The individual battles fought, is reviewed in the second field: Operational History. This section examines the actual operations of warfare: the battles. Citino compares them to an old guard type who refuses to look outside the box of battles. In this section, the sources are from the mid 1990s-2000s again, as he references wide expanses of time in his dissection of literature. He also says that understanding operational history is key to understanding military history as a whole.

The third and final school presented is Memory and Culture. This field examines military events and studies how public perception on those events have changed over time. The main source he references in this section is the book Picketts Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon. In the book, Reardon explains that directly after the battle of Gettysburg, Picketts charge was seen as a great stand by Union, but over time has been viewed as a heroic last ditch effort to achieve victory by the Confederacy. The reason he specifically presents this source is to prove that military history is constantly evolving; not everything about history is set in stone because opinions and ideas change.

Citinos main goal for writing this review is to “reintroduce” the idea to non-military historians that military history is still a field that is alive and well. He explains with his review of three military fields that even though it is important to understand the basis of operational military history, the field as a whole is much broader than general one vs. general two, and the more research conducted regarding the old and new history, the better understanding people will have of the past, present, and future.