Modern America 1917 To 1941

Few periods in the history of this country can match the impact of the years between 1917 and 1941. In less than a generation America experienced the first large-scale dispatch of U.S.Read more »

Airpower’s Century

Powered flight was born exactly one hundred years ago. It changed everything, of course—but most of all, it changed how we wage war.

Walter Boyne’s résumé makes for unusual reading. He is the author of 42 books and one of the few people to have had bestsellers on both the fiction and the nonfiction lists of The New York Times. A career Air Force officer who won his wings in 1951, he has flown over 5,000 hours in a score of different aircraft, from a Piper Cub to a B-IB bomber, and he is a command pilot. Boyne retired as a colonel in 1974 after 23 years of service (in 1989 he returned for a brief tour of duty to fly the B-IB).Read more »

My Grandfather’s War

How the discovery of a long-forgotten trunk inspired an artist to spend years recording the quiet remnants of a wrenching military career.

My grandfather spoke to me about his experiences in the first World War only once, and that was abruptly and in anger. As young boys, my brothers and I would spend part of our summer vacations with my grandparents. One sweltering August night I climbed down from the attic guest room to ask my grandmother if I could sleep on the screened porch. She helped me gather up my pillows and sheets, and as we were rounding the second-story landing, my grandfather appeared unexpectedly.Read more »

Colonel McCormick’s War

The newspaper baron Robert McCormick was a passionate isolationist—yet his brief service in France in 1918 shone for him all his life and gave birth to an extraordinary museum

 

Cantigny.

 
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History’s Largest Lessons

A historian of the ancient world believes that in every era humankind has reacted to the demands of waging war in surprisingly similar ways, and that to protect our national interests today Americans must understand the choices soldiers and statesmen made hundreds and even thousands of years ago

In a time when the usefulness of the past as a means to comprehend the present remains the object of skepticism, if not outright attack, inside the academy, Donald Kagan, the former dean of Yale College and a professor of ancient history, has published a book about the necessity of historical analogy for understanding a nation’s security interests. Read more »

Revising The Twentieth Century

THE GREAT STRUGGLES of our century have all been followed by tides of revulsion: Americans decided we were mad to have entered World War I; Russia should have been our enemy in World War II; the United States started the Cold War. Now another such tide has risen in Europe, and it may be on its way here.

HISTORY IS REVISIONISM. IT IS THE FREQUENT —nay, the ceaseless—reviewing and revising and rethinking of the past. The notion that the study and the writing of history consist of the filling of gaps or the adding of new small bricks to the building of the cathedral of historical knowledge was a nineteenth-century illusion (“We have now histories of the Federalists in every New England State, except for Connecticut.Read more »

The Warfare State

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies. Indeed, the New World Republic was the ultimate island power, with the Atlantic Ocean providing a protective moat nearly a hundred times as wide as the English Channel. The German philosopher Hegel, writing at about the same time as Toque, cited this isolation as one reason “a real State”—a powerful, centralized, European-style state—could never exist in America.Read more »

Build-down

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Home-owners put their houses on the market at distress prices and sometimes simply walk away from their mortgages. Even long-established military centers are not immune; the current round of closings includes the Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco, which has operated since 1854. Read more »

The Old Front Line

THREE-QUARTERS OF A CENTURY HAS NOT BEEN TIME ENOUGH TO EFFACE THE REMNANTS OF VIOLENCE ALONG A FOUR-HUNDRED-MILE FRONT

It is early fall in France, anf the forest is silent and peaceful. A man, dressed in camouflage fatigues and carrying a metal detector and a sawed-off pickax, disappears into the misty underbrush. Here and there holes in the ground are half-filled with deads leaves; strands of rusty barbed wire hang from corkscrew-shaped metal posts. The forest, about forty miles from Paris, is officially called the Bois de la Brigade Marine. The French government has given this land to the United States; Americans know it as Belleau Wood. It was here that men of a U.S.Read more »

Thomason U.s.m.c.

A TEXAS MARINE WHO DREW BEAUTIFULLY AND WROTE AS WELL AS HE DREW BECAME THE LAUREATE OF THE MEN WHO CHECKED THE LAST GREAT GERMAN OFFENSIVE. ALL BUT FORGOTTEN TODAY, HIS 1926 BESTSELLER REMAINS PERHAPS THE FINEST ACCOUNT OF AMERICANS IN THE GREAT WAR.

“The book is here now: a straight-forward prose account of four battles, with infinite detail of the men and emotions in these battles, reinforced with sketches and impressions drawn upon the field. It is, in the opinion of many of us who ought to know, the finest account of their sons in battle which the American people have received. …” The writer who felt he was qualified to judge a war book was Laurence Stallings, who had been wounded in action in Belleau Wood and whose wildly popular play What Price Glory ?Read more »