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History > Military History > Biographies and Memoirs

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Albert Sidney Johnston Cover

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Albert Sidney Johnston

Soldier of Three Republics

Charles P. Roland

" With a new foreword by Gary W. Gallagher Selected as one of the best one hundred books ever written on the Civil War by Civil War Times Illustrated and by Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society A new, revised edition of the only full-scale biography of the Confederacy's top-ranking field general during the opening campaigns of the Civil War.

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Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power

Libbey, James K.

Today, air power is a vital component of the U.S. armed forces. James Libbey, in Alexander P. de Seversky and the Quest for Air Power, highlights the contributions of an aviation pioneer who made much of it possible.

Graduating from the Imperial Russian Naval Academy at the start of World War I, de Seversky lost a leg in his first combat mission. He still shot down thirteen German planes and became the empire's most decorated combat naval pilot.

While serving as a naval attache in the United States in 1918, de Seversky elected to escape the Bolshevik Revolution and offered his services as a pilot and consulting engineer to the U.S. War Department. He proved inventive both in the technology of advanced military aircraft and in the strategy of exercising air power. He worked for famed aviation advocate Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, who encouraged the naturalized citizen to patent his inventions, such as an in-flight refueling system and a gyroscopically synchronized bombsight. His creative spirit then spurred him to design and manufacture advanced military aircraft.

When World War II broke out in Europe, de Seversky became America's best-known philosopher, prophet, and advocate for air power, even serving as an adviser to the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. The highlight of his life occurred in 1970 when the Aviation Hall of Fame enshrined de Seversky for "his achievements as a pilot, aeronautical engineer, inventor, industrialist, author, strategist, consultant, and scientific advances in aircraft design and aerospace technology."

This book will appeal to readers with a special interest in military history and to anyone who wants to learn more about American air power's most important figures.

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Alvin York

A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne

Douglas V. Mastriano

Alvin C. York (1887--1964) -- devout Christian, conscientious objector, and reluctant hero of World War I -- is one of America's most famous and celebrated soldiers. Known to generations through Gary Cooper's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film Sergeant York, York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on October 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France -- a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

At war's end, the media glorified York's bravery but some members of the German military and a soldier from his own unit cast aspersions on his wartime heroics. Historians continue to debate whether York has received more recognition than he deserves. A fierce disagreement about the location of the battle in the Argonne forest has further complicated the soldier's legacy.

In Alvin York, Douglas V. Mastriano sorts fact from myth in the first full-length biography of York in decades. He meticulously examines York's youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in the Great War, and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity. By reviewing artifacts recovered from the battlefield using military terrain analysis, forensic study, and research in both German and American archives, Mastriano reconstructs the events of October 8 and corroborates the recorded accounts. On the eve of the WWI centennial, Alvin York promises to be a major contribution to twentieth-century military history.

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An American Heroine in the French Resistance

The Diary and Memoir of Virginia D'Albert-Lake

Judy Litoff

This fascinating book tells the remarkable story of an ordinary American woman's heroism in the French Resistance. Virginia Roush fell in love with Philippe d'Albert-Lake during a visit to France in 1936; they married soon after. In 1943, they both joined the Resistance, where Virginia put her life in jeopardy as she sheltered downed airmen and later survived a Nazi prison camp. After the war, she stayed in France with Philippe, and was awarded the Lgion d'Honneur and the Medal of Honor. She died in 1997.Judy Barrett Litoff brings together two rare documents-Virginia's diary of wartime France until her capture in 1944 and her prison memoir written immediately after the war. Masterfully edited, they convey the compassion and toughness of a nearly forgotten heroine as they provide an invaluable record of the workings of the Resistance by one of the very few American women who participated in it.An indelible portrait of extraordinary strength of character . . . [D'Albert-Lake] is sombre, reflective, and attentive to every detail.-The New Yorker A sharply etched and moving story of love, companionship, commitment, and sacrifice. . . . This beautifully edited diary and memoir throw an original light on the French Resistance.-Robert Gildea, author of Marianne in Chains: In Search of the German Occupation, 1940-1945 At once a stunning self-portrait and dramatic narrative of a valorous young American woman . . . an exciting and gripping story, one of the best of the many wartime tales.-Walter CronkiteAn enthralling tale which brims with brave airmen and plucky heroines.-David Kirby, St. Petersburg Times

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An American Rabbi in Korea

A Chaplain's Journey in the Forgotten War

Written by Milton Jehiel Rosen and translated and edited by Stanley Russell Rose

During the height of the Korean conflict, 1950-51, Orthodox Jewish chaplain Milton J. Rosen wrote 19 feature-length articles for Der Morgen Zhornal, a Yiddish daily in New York, documenting his wartime experiences as well as those of the servicemen under his care. Rosen was among those nearly caught in the Chinese entrapment of American and Allied forces in North Korea in late 1950, and some of his most poignant writing details the trying circumstances that faced both soldiers and civilians during that time.

As chaplain, Rosen was able to offer a unique account of the American Jewish experience on the frontlines and in the United States military while also describing the impact of the American presence on Korean citizens and their culture. His interest in Korean attitudes toward Jews is also a significant theme within these articles.

Stanley R. Rosen has translated his father's articles into English and provides background on Milton Rosen's military service before and after the Korean conflict. He presents an introductory overview of the war and includes helpful maps and photographs. The sum is a readable account of war and its turmoil from an astute and compassionate observer.



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An American Soldier in World War I

George Browne

George “Brownie” Browne was a twenty-three-year-old civil engineer in Waterbury, Connecticut, when the United States entered the Great War in 1917. He enlisted almost immediately and served in the American Expeditionary Forces until his discharge in 1919. An American Soldier in World War I is an edited collection of more than one hundred letters that Browne wrote to his fiancée, Martha “Marty” Johnson, describing his experiences during World War I as part of the famed 42nd, or Rainbow, Division. From September 1917 until he was wounded in the Meuse-Argonne offensive in late October 1918, Browne served side by side with his comrades in the 117th Engineering Regiment. He participated in several defensive actions and in offensives on the Marne, at Saint-Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne.

This extraordinary collection of Brownie’s letters reveals the day-to-day life of an American soldier in the European theater. The difficulties of training, transportation to France, dangers of combat, and the ultimate strain on George and Marty’s relationship are all captured in these pages. David L. Snead weaves the Browne correspondence into a wider narrative about combat, hope, and service among the American troops. By providing a description of the experiences of an average American soldier serving in the American Expeditionary Forces in France, this study makes a valuable contribution to the history and historiography of American participation in World War I.

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Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge M.D.

Silas Thompson Trowbridge. Introduction by John S. Haller Jr. and Barbara Mason

Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge M.D. is a remarkable account of nineteenth-century medicine, politics, and personal life that recovers the captivating experiences of a Civil War–era regimental surgeon who was also a president of the Illinois State Medical Society and a United States consul in Mexico. First published in 1872 by Trowbridge’s family and even printed on a family-owned press, only a handful of copies of the initial publication survive. In this first paperback edition, Trowbridge’s memoirs are reprinted as they originally appeared.

 

Indiana-born Trowbridge moved to Illinois in his early twenties. A teacher by trade, he continued that career while he began the study of medicine, eventually starting a medical practice near New Castle, which he later moved to Decatur. Though respected by the community, Trowbridge lacked an authentic medical degree, so he enrolled in a four-month course of medical lectures at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Autobiography describes the atmosphere of the medical school and delineates Trowbridge’s opinions on the lack of quality control in medical colleges of the day.

 

Although three years of study and two annual terms of sixteen weeks were the actual requirements for the degree, Trowbridge was allowed to graduate after a single course of lectures  and completion of a twenty-page thesis due to his previous experience. He then married a young widow and returned to Decatur, where he began a partnership with two local physicians and inaugurated a county medical society.  In addition to practicing medicine, he was known and respected for regulating it, too, having supported legislation that would legalize dissection and prohibit incompetent persons from practicing medicine.

 

In 1861, Trowbridge began service as a surgeon of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry commanded by Colonel Richard J. Oglesby. Autobiography describes his experiences beginning in Cairo, Illinois, where the infantry was involved in several expeditions and where Trowbridge made his “debut at the operating table.” Revealing a litany of surgical duties, replete with gruesome details, these war-time recollections provide a unique perspective on medical practices of the day. Likewise, his commentaries on political issues and his descriptions of combat serve to correct some of the early written histories of the war’s great battles.

 

After receiving an honorable discharge in 1864, Trowbridge returned to Decatur to resume his partnership with Dr. W. J. Chenoweth and devote himself to surgery. His reminiscences recount several difficult surgeries, his efforts to reorganize the county medical society (which had collapsed during the war), and his communications to the Illinois legislature to set higher qualifications for practicing physicians. He was later elected president of the Illinois State Medical Society and appointed by President Grant United States Consul to Vera Cruz on the eastern coast of Mexico, where he studied and challenged the treatment of yellow fever. The autobiography ends in 1874 with a six-day family vacation and the marriage of his daughter to a merchant of Vera Cruz.

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Backpacks Full of Hope

The UN Mission in Haiti

Backpacks Full of Hope: The UN Mission in Haiti describes the experience of a Chilean general as Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) during the particularly turbulent year September 2005 to September 2006. It details the realities of commanding more than 7,000 men from eleven countries while working to fulfill the mandate of the United Nations in Haiti—to ensure a secure and stable environment, to support the transitional government in a democratic political process, and to promote and protect the human rights of the Haitian people.

Despite the enormous challenges of a complex scenario that included local violence and extreme poverty, the UN command succeeded in its mission, stabilizing the local situation and paving the way for Haiti to hold a presidential election.

Originally published as Mision en Haiti, con la mochila cargada de esperanzas, this work provides a new audience with insight on the peace operation and sheds light on the long-term endeavour of civilians, military, and local and international agencies to support Haiti’s path to prosperity.

Co-published with the Centre for International Governance Innovation

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Basil Wilson Duke, CSA

The Right Man in the Right Place

Gary Matthews

By the early twentieth century, Basil Wilson Duke had established himself as one of Kentucky’s most popular storytellers, but unlike many other talented raconteurs, Duke was not merely a man of words. In Basil Wilson Duke, CSA, the first full-length biography of this distinguished American, Gary Robert Matthews offers keen insight into the challenges Duke faced before, during, and after the strife of the Civil War. As first lieutenant of General John Hunt Morgan’s legendary band of Confederate raiders, Duke became Morgan’s most trusted advisor and an integral contributor to his dramatic tactical successes. Duke was twice wounded in battle and was captured during a raid in Ohio in 1863. Held captive for over a year, Duke rejoined Morgan’s cavalry in August 1864, only days before Morgan (who was Duke’s brother-in-law) met his demise in Greeneville, Tennessee. Promoted to brigadier general and appointed commander of Morgan’s men, he helped convince Jefferson Davis of the futility of continued resistance at the close of the war and was assigned to the force escorting Davis in his escape. Duke’s life of action and achievement, however, did not end with the war. He wrote A History of Morgan’s Cavalry, preserving for posterity the experiences of his fellow warriors, and covered for the Louisville Courier-Journal an 1875 horserace that would eventually be known as the first Kentucky Derby. He built a reputation as a skilled historical writer, and his interests led him to help found the Filson Historical Society in Louisville. Duke also applied his talents to public and political life. He opened a law office and was elected as a Democrat to the Kentucky House, where he served until 1870. Then applying his legal expertise and political connections at the state and national levels, Duke represented the powerful L&N Railroad as the company’s chief lobbyist in the aftermath of the war and during the emotionally charged era of Reconstruction. Gary Robert Matthews’s comprehensive study of the life of Basil Wilson Duke allows a great soldier and statesman to step out of the shadows of the past.

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Battles and Leaders of the Civil War

Volume 6

Peter Cozzens

Sifting carefully through reports from newspapers, magazines, personal memoirs, and letters, Peter Cozzens Volume 6 brings readers more of the best first-person accounts of marches, encampments, skirmishes, and fullblown battles, as seen by participants on both sides of the conflict. Alongside the experiences of lower-ranking officers and enlisted men are accounts from key personalities including General John Gibbon, General John C. Lee, and seven prominent generals from both sides offering views on why the Confederacy failed.? This volume includes one hundred and twenty illustrations, including sixteen previously uncollected maps of battlefields, troop movements, and fortifications.

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