An older, but still evergreen article in US News and World Report about the much discussed issue (in military history circles, at least) of the future, or lack thereof, of military history in the academy. Trotsky’s quote in the article is spot on,
“You may not be interested in war. But war is interested in you.”
I generally agree with Citino at the end of the story,
“Someone’s going to be writing books about war—there’s a huge demand for it[.] … I personally would rather it be written by a scholar, instead of a re-enactor or your friendly neighborhood war buff.”
Except that there is nothing wrong with a re-enactor or a neighborhood war buff writing history, as long as they do a good job at it. I agree that good scholarly work in the military history field is worthy when done correctly. Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War or John A. Lynn’s Battle: A History of Combat and Culture or Wayne E. Lee’s Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500-1865 come to mind. However, I’ve read plenty of “scholars” who don’t know their ass from their elbow. I’ll spare you in listing some of them. There is nothing magical about being a scholar. What matters is that the history is clear, concise, and correct. Many scholars get their subject mater technically correct, but are not clear and certainly not concise.
Military history will be written or told and it will be lapped up with great enthusiasm. The only question is whether academia will get a say or not and that is up to the academy itsdamnself.