Warhorse Simulations home page WARHORSE

ACTS | Empire | Epic of the Peloponnesian War | Free Stuff | Friends

Other historical book reviews and research papers are also available on our site.

Kurt Kuhlmann


HST 351.01


Review:                  In Defense of the Republic, edited by David Curtis Skaggs and Robert S. Browning III


With In Defense of the Republic, David Skaggs and Robert Browning have succeeded marvelously in the difficult art of anthology editing.  At 554 pages, the book encompasses the whole range of American military experience in time, from the colonial era through the post-Vietnam debate.  Many angles on military history are covered, from Wayne Hughes's "Fleet Tactics: A Weaponry Revolution" to William Skelton's "Professionalization in the U.S. Officer Corps during the Age of Jackson" to George Herring's "American Strategy in Vietnam: The Postwar Debate."  The inclusion of several articles on the normally neglected area of logistics was especially welcome.  The book is intended as a supplementary text for an introductory military history course, so the editors have deliberately included samples of both traditional and "new" military history.

I had only a few minor gripes.  The removal of the notes and bibliographies from the articles was regrettable, but the length and introductory intent of the book make this omission understandable.  More maps would also have been welcome, although the few included were excellent.  Finally, the heavy emphasis on World War II (176 pages versus about 40-50 pages for other sections) was not explained.  World War II was certainly the most extensive war that the United States every fought, which could justify the space devoted to it, but this reflects an assumption on the editors' part which should be explicitly stated.

Although In Defense of the Republic would stand out solely for its range and quality, what elevates it far above other anthologies are the editors' introductions to each article.  As they state in the introduction to the book, "We want the readers to see these essays not in isolation but rather in conjunction with one another."  Their extensive, two to three page introductions place each article in its historical and historiographic context, giving historical background as well as the nature of the debate from which the author is writing.  The editors also link each article with others in the collection, suggesting common themes and questions.  The editors clearly put significant time and thought into these introductions, and their effort puts this collection in a class by itself.

Copyright © 1998 Warhorse Simulations