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Before the Quagmire Cover

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Before the Quagmire

American Intervention in Laos, 1954-1961

William J. Rust

In the decade preceding the first U.S. combat operations in Vietnam, the Eisenhower administration sought to defeat a communist-led insurgency in neighboring Laos. Although U.S. foreign policy in the 1950s focused primarily on threats posed by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the American engagement in Laos evolved from a small cold war skirmish into a superpower confrontation near the end of President Eisenhower's second term. Ultimately, the American experience in Laos foreshadowed many of the mistakes made by the United States in Vietnam in the 1960s.

In Before the Quagmire: American Intervention in Laos, 1954--1961, William J. Rust delves into key policy decisions made in Washington and their implementation in Laos, which became first steps on the path to the wider war in Southeast Asia. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources, Before the Quagmire documents how ineffective and sometimes self-defeating assistance to Laotian anticommunist elites reflected fundamental misunderstandings about the country's politics, history, and culture. The American goal of preventing a communist takeover in Laos was further hindered by divisions among Western allies and U.S. officials themselves, who at one point provided aid to both the Royal Lao Government and to a Laotian general who plotted to overthrow it. Before the Quagmire is a vivid analysis of a critical period of cold war history, filling a gap in our understanding of U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia and America's entry into the Vietnam War.

Behind the Gas Mask Cover

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Behind the Gas Mask

The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in War and Peace

Thomas I. Faith

In Behind the Gas Mask , Thomas Faith offers an institutional history of the Chemical Warfare Service, the department tasked with improving the Army's ability to use and defend against chemical weapons during and after World War One. Taking the CWS's story from the trenches to peacetime, he explores how the CWS's work on chemical warfare continued through the 1920s despite deep opposition to the weapons in both military and civilian circles. As Faith shows, the believers in chemical weapons staffing the CWS allied with supporters in the military, government, and private industry to lobby to add chemical warfare to the country's permanent arsenal. Their argument: poison gas represented an advanced and even humane tool in modern war, while its applications for pest control and crowd control made a chemical capacity relevant in peacetime. But conflict with those aligned against chemical warfare forced the CWS to fight for its institutional life--and ultimately led to the U.S. military's rejection of battlefield chemical weapons.

Behind the Guns Cover

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Behind the Guns

The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery

Thaddeus C.S. Brown, Samuel J. Murphy, and William G. Putney. Edited with a For

Much has been written of the infantry and the cavalry during the Civil War, but little attention has been paid the artillery. Through the battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge in 1863 and the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and with General Sherman’s forces on the famous March to the Sea, the acts of a courageous fighting group are vividly recounted in Behind the Guns: The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery. Originally published in 1965 in a limited edition, this regimental history of a light artillery unit was written by three of its soldiers, including the bugler.

            

Battery I was formed in 1861 by Charles W. Keith of Joliet and Henry B. Plant of Peoria. More than a hundred men were mustered into service in December near Springfield and left for Cairo in February 1862. The battery trained at Camp Paine across the Ohio River in Kentucky until March, when the men were dispatched to the South. During the war, the Battery was attached to three different armies: the Army of the Mississippi, the Army of the Ohio, and the Army of the Cumberland.

            

Clyde C. Walton’s foreword and the narrative discuss the variety of weapons used by the unit, including James, Parrott, and Rodman guns and the bronze, muzzle-loading Napoleons that fired twelve-pound projectiles. The book also includes an account of the prisoner-of-war experience of Battery I lieutenant Charles McDonald, biographical sketches of the battery soldiers, and eighteen maps and five line drawings.

 

Beneficial Bombing Cover

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Beneficial Bombing

The Progressive Foundations of American Air Power, 1917-1945

Mark Clodfelter

The Progressive Era, marked by a desire for economic, political, and social reform, ended for most Americans with the ugly reality and devastation of World War I. Yet for Army Air Service officers, the carnage and waste witnessed on the western front only served to spark a new progressive movement—to reform war by relying on destructive technology as the instrument of change. In Beneficial Bombing Mark Clodfelter describes how American airmen, horrified by World War I’s trench warfare, turned to the progressive ideas of efficiency and economy in an effort to reform war itself, with the heavy bomber as their solution to limiting the bloodshed. They were convinced that the airplane, used as a bombing platform, offered the means to make wars less lethal than conflicts waged by armies or navies. Clodfelter examines the progressive idealism that led to the creation of the U.S. Air Force and its doctrine that the finite destruction of precision bombing would end wars more quickly and with less suffering for each belligerent. What is more, his work shows how these progressive ideas emerged intact after World War II to become the foundation of modern U.S. Air Force doctrine. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, including critical documents unavailable to previous researchers, Clodfelter presents the most complete analysis ever of the doctrinal development underpinning current U.S. Air Force notions about strategic bombing.

Berlin on the Brink Cover

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Berlin on the Brink

The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War

Daniel F. Harrington

The Berlin blockade brought former allies to the brink of war. Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union defeated and began their occupation of Germany in 1945, and within a few years, the Soviets and their Western partners were jockeying for control of their former foe. Attempting to thwart the Allied powers' plans to create a unified West German government, the Soviets blocked rail and road access to the western sectors of Berlin in June 1948. With no other means of delivering food and supplies to the German people under their protection, the Allies organized the Berlin airlift.

In Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Cold War, Daniel F. Harrington examines the "Berlin question" from its origin in wartime plans for the occupation of Germany through the Paris Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in 1949. Harrington draws on previously untapped archival sources to challenge standard accounts of the postwar division of Germany, the origins of the blockade, the original purpose of the airlift, and the leadership of President Harry S. Truman. While thoroughly examining four-power diplomacy, Harrington demonstrates how the ingenuity and hard work of the people at the bottom -- pilots, mechanics, and Berliners -- were more vital to the airlift's success than decisions from the top. Harrington also explores the effects of the crisis on the 1948 presidential election and on debates about the custody and use of atomic weapons. Berlin on the Brink is a fresh, comprehensive analysis that reshapes our understanding of a critical event of cold war history.

Berry Benson's Civil War Book Cover

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Berry Benson's Civil War Book

Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter

Berry Benson Edited by Susan Williams Benson New Introduction by Edward J. Cash

Confederate scout and sharpshooter Berry Greenwood Benson witnessed the first shot fired on Fort Sumter, retreated with Lee's Army to its surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, and missed little of the action in between. This memoir of his service is a remarkable narrative, filled with the minutiae of the soldier's life and paced by a continual succession of battlefield anecdotes.

Three main stories emerge from Benson's account: his reconnaissance exploits, his experiences in battle, and his escape from prison. Though not yet eighteen years old when he left his home in Augusta, Georgia, to join the army, Benson was soon singled out for the abilities that would serve him well as a scout. Not only was he a crack shot, a natural leader, and a fierce Southern partisan, but he had a kind of restless energy and curiosity, loved to take risks, and was an instant and infallible judge of human nature. His recollections of scouting take readers within arm's reach of Union trenches and encampments. Benson recalls that while eavesdropping he never failed to be shocked by the Yankees' foul language; he had never heard that kind of talk in a Confederate camp!

Benson's descriptions of the many battles in which he fought--including Cold Harbor, The Seven Days, Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg--convey the desperation of a full frontal charge and the blind panic of a disorganized retreat. Yet in these accounts, Benson's own demeanor under fire is manifest in the coolly measured tone he employs.

A natural writer, Benson captures the dark absurdities of war in such descriptions as those of hardened veterans delighting in the new shoes and other equipment they found on corpse-littered battlefields. His clothing often torn by bullets, Benson was also badly bruised a number of times by spent rounds. At one point, in May 1863, he was wounded seriously enough in the leg to be hospitalized, but he returned to the field before full recuperation.

Benson was captured behind enemy lines in May 1864 while on a scouting mission for General Lee. Confined to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland, he escaped after only two days and swam the Potomac to get back into Virginia. Recaptured near Washington, D.C., he was briefly held in Old Capitol Prison, then sent to Elmira Prison in New York. There he joined a group of ten men who made the only successful tunnel escape in Elmira's history. After nearly six months in captivity or on the run, he rejoined his unit in Virginia. Even at Appomattox, Benson refused to surrender but stole off with his brother to North Carolina, where they planned to join General Johnston. Finding the roads choked with Union forces and surrendered Confederates, the brothers ultimately bore their unsurrendered rifles home to Augusta.

Berry Benson first wrote his memoirs for his family and friends. Completed in 1878, they drew on his--and partially on his brother's--wartime diaries, as well as on letters that both brothers had written to family members during the war. The memoirs were first published in book form in 1962 but have long been unavailable. This edition, with a new foreword by the noted Civil War historian Herman Hattaway, will introduce this compelling story to a new generation of readers.

Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill Cover

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Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill

How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era

Stephen Ortiz

The period between World Wars I and II was a time of turbulent political change, with suffragists, labor radicals, demagogues, and other voices clamoring to be heard. One group of activists that has yet to be closely examined by historians is World War I veterans. Mining the papers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion (AL), Stephen R. Ortiz reveals that veterans actively organized in the years following the war to claim state benefits (such as pensions and bonuses), and strove to articulate a role for themselves as a distinct political bloc during the New Deal era.

Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill is unique in its treatment of World War I veterans as significant political actors during the interwar period. Ortiz's study reinterprets the political origins of the "Second" New Deal and Roosevelt's electoral triumph of 1936, adding depth not only to our understanding of these events and the political climate surrounding them, but to common perceptions of veterans and their organizations. In describing veteran politics and the competitive dynamics between the AL and the VFW, Ortiz details the rise of organized veterans as a powerful interest group in modern American politics.

Beyond the Call of Duty Cover

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Beyond the Call of Duty

Army Flight Nursing in World War II

At the height of World War II, five hundred Army flight nurses served with the Army Air Forces as members of thirty-one medical air evacuation squadrons located throughout the world on both the European and Pacific fronts. Their work was not insignificant—over one million patients were evacuated by air between January 1943 and May 1945. These specially trained Army nurses took nursing to new heights. Often decorated for their accomplishments, they exemplify the ability of a group of nurses to cope successfully with the challenges of war.

In her comprehensive book, author Judith Barger brings together information that is becoming less accessible as the former nurses succumb to age, infirmity, and death. Barger interviewed twenty-five of these pioneering women in 1986 when their recall of their service experiences was still vivid and informative. Building on Barger’s earlier research, their stories and the numerous complementary photographs included in the volume bring to life this long overdue tribute to Army flight nursing in World War II.

Beyond the Call of Duty offers the only in-depth account of the events leading up to the formation of the military flight nurse program, their training for duty, and the air evacuation missions in which they participated. Readers of military history, women’s history, and nursing history will find all three interests represented in this book, which gives new meaning to a phrase in the Flight Nurse Creed of 1943: “I will be faithful to my training, and to the wisdom handed down to me by those who have gone before me.”

Beyond the Shadow of Camptown Cover

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Beyond the Shadow of Camptown

Korean Military Brides in America

Ji-Yeon Yuh

Since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, nearly 100,000 Korean women have immigrated to the United States as the wives of American soldiers. Based on extensive oral interviews and archival research, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns tells the stories of these women, from their presumed association with U.S. military camptowns and prostitution to their struggles within the intercultural families they create in the United States.

Historian Ji-Yeon Yuh argues that military brides are a unique prism through which to view cultural and social contact between Korea and the U.S. After placing these women within the context of Korean-U.S. relations and the legacies of both Japanese and U.S. colonialism vis á vis military prostitution, Yuh goes on to explore their lives, their coping strategies with their new families, and their relationships with their Korean families and homeland. Topics range from the personal—the role of food in their lives—to the communalthe efforts of military wives to form support groups that enable them to affirm Korean identity that both American and Koreans would deny them.

Relayed with warmth and compassion, this is the first in-depth study of Korean military brides, and is a groundbreaking contribution to Asian American, women's, and "new" immigrant studies, while also providing a unique approach to military history.

Black Cadet in a White Bastion Cover

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Black Cadet in a White Bastion

Charles Young at West Point

Brian G. Shellum

Born in slavery, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. military attaché, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Unlike the two black graduates before him, Young went on to a long military career, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. After Young, racial intolerance closed the door to blacks at the academy, and forty-seven years passed before another African American graduated from West Point.

Brian G. Shellum’s biography of Young’s years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.

Until now, scholars of African American and military history have neglected this important U.S. Army trailblazer. Young’s experiences at the U.S. Military Academy, his triumph over adversity, and his commitment to success forged the mold for his future achievements as an Army officer, even as the United States slipped further into the degradation and waste of racial intolerance.

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