Although brief by comparison with European or Eastern military history, the United States has established a distinctive series of traditions among its armed forces, and tracing the development of these is the essence of A HANDBOOK OF AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY. Organized into significant historical periods, such as “The Building Period: 1775-1815,” or “The Global Period: 1942-1963,” the essays in the volume provide a brief but comprehensive survey of the American military experience.
Each historical period is divided into logical and useful sections: a chronology; a short essay on military operations; abbreviated biographical notes on major figures; and a selected reading list. By necessity the entries for each section are short, but they cover a surprisingly large amount of territory, providing the essential information while guiding the reader towards additional sources. There is also an extremely helpful glossary to guide the reader through the thickets of the military vocabulary, so heavily laced with acronyms such as SAC, SAM, and SALT.
The volume is admirably constructed so that it serves the needs both of the casual reader and the serious student of American military history. This approach satisfies both those who need a brief introduction to a figure such as Homer Lea (1876-1912), who served in China during the Boxer Rebellion and predicted the Japanese would one day attack Hawaii, as well as those who are interested in more arcane matters, such as the role of the Iroquois Indians during the Civil War. Both parties, and those in between, will be well served by this volume.