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Citino Secondary Source Analysis

Citino, Robert M. “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction.” American Historical

            Review 112, no. 4 (2007): 1070-1090

Robert M. Citino’s 2007 paper, “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction” explores three schools under of the study of military history, as Citino attempts to reintroduce military history to non-military historians. Citino’s goal is to show non-military historians that the study has evolved past battle and tactics; that military historians are looking at how war effects other fields as well, such as political, social, and cultural.

Citino structures his paper by looking under the “big tent” (1070) of military history, particularly at the three schools that reside beneath. The three schools being, new military, traditional operational, and the third relatively newer school that “seeks to apply the newest trends in historical inquiry” (1070-1071) and focuses on the memory of historical events. While looking more in depth at these schools, Citino uses a variety of scholarly books, papers, and journals that reiterate his point that military history is evolving past just battle and tactics. He states that these sources he is using “indicates that the line of demarcation between “new” and “old” military histories is becoming increasingly indistinct, even antiquated” (1089). Current military historians are blending the older ways of viewing military history, while incorporating new viewpoints. Citino uses sources, while he looks more in depth into how the schools are incorporating different fields of study, that still have the overarching theme of military history and their specific school. Citino also makes use of footnotes to include sources on topics that incorporate military history and other schools, that he did not specifically reference in the journal, or briefly mentioned a field that is connected to military history.

The first school that Citino examines is new military history, this school looks at the connection between war and society. The first example he uses for this school is the Crucible of War by Fred Anderson, he states about the book that “It is a military history, to be sure, and yet it is far more than a book about war and battle.” (1071). This statement he makes about the Crucible of War, is the point he attempts to make with all of his sources; military historians are looking beyond men on the battlefield. The second school is even older than the first, traditional operational history, which main focus is in fact “the province of war, of campaign, and of battle” (1079). Citino uses this school to cement his point that military history is no longer just about the war. Historians studying in this school now also use sociology and psychology when looking at the culture of war to further their understanding and research.

Despite the inclusion and closer look at the first two schools, Citino puts more emphasis and detail into his thoughts of the third school. This third school is the newest school to emerge in military history, it puts new emphasis on memory of history, how it is viewed today effect how it is seen in the eyes of historians. “The words, in the end, mattered a great deal more than the brief war that generated them” (1082), this is how Citino explains how a book by Jill Lepore, is almost an embodiment of this newest groups. Her book not only studied King Phillip’s war but how it was written about after the war. This school looks at how military history that is effected by how media and individuals remembering’s of moments of military history influence how that moment in history are changed.  Although Citino directed his writing to non-military historians, at the end he spoke to military historians as well stating, “Perhaps it is time to drop the distinctions altogether, and to describe military history today as a discipline with a strong interest in social and cultural analysis, but with an equally immovable commitment to its battlefield and campaign tradition” (1089). He leaves a final piece of “advice” (1090) for non-military historians, to read some military history and move pasts its surrounding stigmas in today’s scholarly society to see what it is really about.

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