We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Embattled Past

Reflections on Military History

Edward M. Coffman

Publication Year: 2013

Internationally recognized for having reinvigorated and redefined his field, distinguished military historian Edward M. Coffman is a dedicated and much-admired teacher and mentor. In The Embattled Past, several of his most important essays have been assembled into a collection that serves as an essential reference to the discipline and an initiation to the study of military history for aspiring scholars.

Coffman's introduction to the volume charts his own professional journey and sets the book within the larger context of Americans' attitudes toward their military, both inside and outside of academia. The essays explore a range of critical issues in military historiography -- such as strategies for conducting oral history and research methodologies -- and examine questions at the heart of the field. Included are two seminal essays on World War I, which provide a fascinating overview of American war strategies and illuminate the reasons why so many historians have ignored this critical turning point in twentieth-century history. The volume concludes with an unpublished essay detailing Coffman's experience of interviewing General Douglas MacArthur in 1960.

This exciting new book offers readers insights into more than two hundred years of United States military history while also providing a comprehensive overview of Coffman's stellar contributions to the field. Important and engaging, The Embattled Past is a primer on the profession from one of the most honored scholars of our time.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Praise, Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (286.7 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (78.6 KB)
pp. 8-9


pdf iconDownload PDF (38.4 KB)
pp. 10-11

read more

Introduction: Fragments of History

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 1-12

Military history evolved a great deal in the past century. Traditionally, the ?drum and trumpet? genre dealt with heroes and the glory earned in battle. As the field of academic history developed in the early days of the twentieth century, teachers disdained that approach and attempted to bar it from the classroom. At the annual American Historical Association ...

read more

The American Army in Peacetime

pdf iconDownload PDF (150.1 KB)
pp. 13-24

The end of the Cold War is bringing about significant reductions in the military budget, with the resulting base closures and, ultimately, force reductions. For more than four decades, the presence of an obvious potential enemy focused military thinking and kept military spending and strength much larger than in other periods between wars ...

read more

The Duality of the American Military Tradition: A Commentary

pdf iconDownload PDF (195.9 KB)
pp. 25-42

Several years ago, an ad man called from Milwaukee to ask me to check out an advertisement that he had just written. Rather than calling up images of scantily clad maidens or cute infants, he wanted to exploit the American military tradition to encourage people to purchase his product. The blurb he read to me included a list of five or ...

read more

The American 15th Infantry Regiment in China, 1912-1938: A Vignette in Social History

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 43-66

In October 1932, Lieutenant William E. Carraway and his fianc?e drove to Goldsboro, North Carolina, to ask her parents? consent to their wedding. The thirty-year-old West Pointer had met Mela Royall while serving as an ROTC instructor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Now his assignment was coming to an end and the two ...

read more

The Philippine Scouts, 1899-1942: A Historical Vignette

pdf iconDownload PDF (575.5 KB)
pp. 67-78

On 23 March 1901, a small band of Philippine Scouts captured the leader of the Philippine cause?Emilio Aguinaldo?and broke the back of the movement against the Americans. The war of Independence, or, as the Americans termed it, the Philippine Insurrection, had gone on since February 1899, and much fighting remained. Increasingly, the ...

read more

The American Military and Strategic Policy in World War I

pdf iconDownload PDF (224.5 KB)
pp. 79-98

My first thought upon being asked to give a paper on war aims and strategic policy in World War I was that there was little that I could say about the role of the American military in either. After all, war aims were tightly locked up in Woodrow Wilson?s brain and the strategic parameters of the Great War were solidly in place by the time of the ...

read more

Why We Are Not Interested in World War I and Should Be

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.9 KB)
pp. 99-106

...forgotten subjects. The few of us who have written about that war have all experienced the blank looks which reflect most people?s lack of interest and profound lack of knowledge when the subject rarely battlefield cemeteries on the Western Front are also impressed by how few of our countrymen have signed the visitors? books over the years....

read more

The Course of Military History in the United States Since World War II

pdf iconDownload PDF (223.1 KB)
pp. 107-124

The fascination with war has been a constant since long before the first century bC when Virgil began his Aeneid with the line??I sing of arms and the man.? Today, popular interest in military history is still much in evidence in bookstores and on television. The popularity of this subject since the beginning of time would seem to make the ...

read more

Talking about War: Reflections on Doing Oral History and Military History

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.4 MB)
pp. 125-138

Oral history goes naturally with military history. After all, veterans war etches the memory of many veterans so deeply. It was ?the only heroic thing we all did together. . . . it, somehow, had meaning, and daily life hasn?t. It was part of a common endeavor and daily life is military historians as human lives and the fate of nations hang in the ...

read more

The Shadows of Time: Experience in Research

pdf iconDownload PDF (183.9 KB)
pp. 139-152

Usually the topic of scholarly lectures is the result of current research. normal pattern. After all, I have been at work on a social history of the peacetime American army for the last fifteen years and certainly General Eisenhower spent much of his life in that environment. While I find these officers, soldiers, and their wives and children fascinating, ...

read more

Memories of Forrest C. Pogue, Oral History Pioneer and One of Kentucky's Greatest Historians

pdf iconDownload PDF (514.7 KB)
pp. 153-162

Now that oral history is respectable and flourishing, it is hard to believe how little it was used as a source and in what low regard it was held by many historians fifty years ago. Kentuckian Forrest C. Pogue (1912?1996), one of the most significant historians of World War II, County. A precocious boy, he graduated from the then Murray State ...

read more

"My room mate . . . is Dwight Eisenhower . . . "

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 163-170

...?My room mate (tent mate, rather) is Dwight Eisenhower of Abilene, Kansas. . . .? On 30 July 1911, Paul A. Hodgson thus informed his mother of the beginning of a close friendship, about which General Eisenhower commented in December 1942: ?The four years we spent in the same room more than a quarter of a century ago are still one of ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (518.6 KB)
pp. 171-182

Thomas D. Clark is recognized as one of Kentucky?s major cultural assets, and throughout his long career he has taught and influenced thousands of students. It was my privilege to be one of the relative few who worked with him as both an undergraduate and graduate student. Having him as a mentor for more than fifty years has certainly been to ...

read more

Interviewing General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 183-192

...eighty-first birthday with a dinner and a reunion with former aides and other officers as well as civilian friends. In its issue on 3 February, Time published a brief article about the occasion with a photograph of him cutting the cake. The writer noted that ?he never gives an interview.? Actually, he had given two interviews within the past two ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (89.7 KB)
pp. 193-194

I owe my appreciation to Steve Wrinn, who encouraged me to publish this book, and to Allison Webster and Iris A. Law at the University Press of Kentucky, and Derik Shelor, the diligent copy editor of my In researching my articles and books, I have greatly depended on teachers and archivists as well as on the interviews and correspondence ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (131.4 KB)
pp. 195-202

E-ISBN-13: 9780813142685
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813142661

Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Military historians -- United States.
  • United States -- History, Military -- Historiography.
  • United States -- History, Military.
  • United States. Army -- History.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access