Saturday, June 04, 2005

I really only know of two paradigms to think about military theory. I wonder what some other interesting ones might be.


 


The first is the one that sorta came to me from reading On War.


The second is the idea of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation warfare developed by Byrd.


 

Civil War Bookshelf presents a somewhat contrarian view to the popular Civil War history that is accepted by many academics and taught in school. Frankly, this blog has influenced my thinking a lot. In general, I'm not that knowledgeable about the Civil War, so I can't really think to deeply on some of the issues presented. However, this blog did make me pick up on a few things that had always been lurking at the back of my head.


The basic point made by the blog is that if you read one of the more popular works on the civil war, i.e. The Battle Cry of Freedom or Bruce Catton's works, you will experience a feeling of cognitive dissonance. This stems from the fact that in an attempt to cram a history into a shortened account such as one of these, there is a danger of creating distorted account. This seems pretty obvious, but in the case of Civil War history it is very insidious, and causes historical evidence to be warped in order to create a picture of history that is congruent to the narrative created in these historical works.


Take an example from one of the most recent posts on CWBN (comments on a review on a book by General Halleck):


 


 "Marszalek provides extensive coverage of the general's antebellum life." * I expect a reasonably full accounting of Halleck's California law wranglings with Edwin Stanton and his dealings with a certain West Coast politician named Joe Hooker, two topics far oustside the scope of any Centennial history. (Shame the review does not indicate whether I will get satisfaction here. )


Regardless of whether Marszalek talks about these issues in his book on Halleck, I assure you they are not mentioned in THe Battle Cry of Freedom(considered by many to be the definitive one volume account of the ACW) at all. Halleck, in general, is marginalized despite the fact that for much of the war he was the highest ranking officer in the Union Army. When I read the Battle Cry of Freedom I didn't know shit about Halleck. Then a few years later I read How The North Won by Herman Hattaway and Arthur Jones. Suddenly, Halleck became a central character, and I experienced a very strange sense of feeling really confused about what the hell was going on.


Anyways, the discussion of this issue, warping evidence and sources to fit a preordained master narrative of the civil war, is at the center of the CWBN. Even for someone like me, with only passing knowledge of the the Civil War, the blog is very accessible and interesting.


But what struck me the most, was how often this idea of warping evidence to fit our preconcieved notions prevails in our society today with regards to historical analysis.


I think this type of distortion is endemic in the way that many of us think.

"Blog Them Out of The Stone Age" is basically the reason why this blog exists.


http://warhistorian.blogspot.com/ (the older posts) and http://warhistorian.org/blog/ (current posts) are mantained by Mark Grimsley, a professor at Ohio University and basically he spits out some of his ideas on military history and history as a profession.

Introducing Some Blogs


 


Three blogs I read regularly:


http://irregularanalyses.blogspot.com/


http://cwbn.blogspot.com/


http://warhistorian.org/blog/


 


All three of this blogs deserve considerable note:


Irregular Analyses is written by a trio of graduate students, with commentary on a variety of issues. There is a large amount of content devoted to military history. On the whole, I find that there are a number of inciteful posts and its very easy to read.


Hopefully, by becoming more concious about this problem I can overcome it to a degree.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Stolen from Civil War Bookshelf (http://cwbn.blogspot.com/)


 


 Marszalek provides extensive coverage of the general's antebellum life." * I expect a reasonably full accounting of Halleck's California law wranglings with Edwin Stanton and his dealings with a certain West Coast politician named Joe Hooker, two topics far oustside the scope of any Centennial history. (Shame the review does not indicate whether I will get satisfaction here. )


 


This quote made light bulbs set off in my head. More later.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Quick Post


Recently I've been reading Historian's Fallacies by David Hackett Fischer. It has sorta been shaking things up in the ol' brain and has sorta made me want to redefine the terms of this whole endevour.


In the meanwhile a few quick thoughts and links:


Here's a speech given by John Gaddis, cold war historian, at middlebury college


 
http://gmapalumni.org/chapomatic/?p=790


I thought this was a very good speech for several reasons which I will not elaborate on.


 


So I guess 1 link, and no thoughts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So the start of this project has been slightly delayed, because I'm lazy.


As you have found out I've started a new blog. I wanted to have a place to record my thoughts on historical matters so that I don't forget them, and so that other people can read them. Additionally, this serves as a way to track my path intellectually. I find myself reconsidering things very often and I feel I would be more objective if I could remember the lines of reasoning that took me down one path or another more completely.


I hope to fill the content of this blog with several items. I will include links interesting articles and a few comments on them. I also plan to write some book reviews, mainly as a method to clarify my own ideas about what I've read. Finally, I plan to constantly be keeping a tally of historical themes that I'm interested in learning more about.


Probably, progress on this blog will be pretty slow as I've been much busier than normally lately, but hopefully this will be at least a little useful.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Welcome to Nicstorian

I'm tired, I'll start this project on the weekend or something.