I've been a military historian for most of my life. My initiation into the field came in 1974 when I wrote a history of the Antietam Campaign. I published my first article--concerning a feud between two Civil War generals--in 1980, just after my 21st birthday. After getting a B.A. from Ohio State, I went on to obtain a master's degree in War Studies at Kings College London. Then I returned to Ohio State, took my PhD in 1992, and joined the faculty as an assistant professor later that year.
The military history program at Ohio State is widely considered among the best in North America. That's mainly why my department considered an "inside hire" like myself; such things are rarely done in academe. Getting one of the best jobs in military history at the outset of my career was a great privilege. It gave me a sense of special responsibility to both the program and the field. I have not borne this burden lightly. Somewhat paradoxically, it has made me a sustained critic of academic military history. When you care about anything you want to see it reach its full potential, and for years I've felt that the field defined itself too narrowly.
I came to believe that the future of academic military history rested on discovering its proper intellectual boundaries, which were, I suspected, far more expansive than the detractors of military history--and some of its practitioners--would have you believe.
The Origins of WarHistorian.org
Back in December 2003, I began an intellectual journey to gain a better sense of the field's potential. I kept a public record of this journey in an online diary--it was not really a blog--entitled Interrogating the Project of Military History. A year later the task of chronicling that journey was transferred to a more orthodox blog called War Historian. By February 2005, War Historian was averaging about 150 visits a day.
Blog Them Out of the Stone Age
On March 6, 2005, the chronicle of the journey moved to Blog Them Out of the Stone Age. Its name--a play on General Curtis LeMay's famous advice to "bomb them into the Stone Age"--may be taken as slightly derisory of the field. But it's meant in fun and, by and large, military historians have understood that. Anyway, the "them" in the title applies, with much greater justice, to those who have a jaundiced view of military history based on unexamined stereotypes. Military history has already come a long way, and those who disparage the field from ignorance are, for all their pretensions, graceless and neanderthal.
Many blogrolls generously provide links not just to major blogs but also to every blog that links back. I've decided, reluctantly, to take a more exclusive approach, not from snobbery but from a desire to keep my eye on the ball. The purpose of WarHistorian.org is to advance the field of military history. Blogs that directly contribute to this goal--either because they frequently post about the field, frame military affairs and analysis within a broad context , and/or show the Internet's potential for expanding the field--get a place on "A Few Good Blogs." Otherwise I limit the blogroll to a few key news-related blogs and web sites. For an extensive guide to historically oriented weblogs, consult Cliopatria's History Blogroll.
The Web Site
Most of the action at WarHistorian.org is on the blog. The web site is principally a repository for material that does not fit the blog format: reading lists, syllabi, and presentations. Most of it has been transferred from a home page I've maintained since 1996, and much remains on the old location, particularly Dialogue in Military History.
WarHistorian.org 2005 - Mark Grimsley