Consolations of History
Only the Dead Are Safe
War has been with mankind since the beginning of time and it has exercised over man's mind an unshakable fascination and inspired a justifiable fear. It is the collective sin of the human species. For centuries it has ravaged, murdered, and destroyed the best of our culture. That it is a stalking evil needs no amount of argument. Thucydides summed it up best over 400 years before Christ's birth: "That war is an evil is something we all know, and it would be pointless to go on cataloging all the disadvantages involved in it. No one is forced into war by ignorance, nor, if he thinks he will gain from it, is he kept out of it by fear. The fact is that one side thinks that the profits to be won outweigh the risks to be incurred, and the other side is ready to face danger rather than accept an immediate loss." The British military historian, J. F. C. Fuller offered an updated paraphrase on the regularity of war some 2,350 years later: "Whether war is a necessary factor in the evolution of mankind may be disputed, but a fact which cannot be questioned is that, from the earliest records of man to the present age, war has been his dominant preoccupation. There has never been a period of human history altogether free from war, and seldom one of more than a generation which has not witnessed a major conflict: great wars flow and ebb almost as regularly as the tides." --From eight-page article on war and history.
Consolations of History: Only the Dead Are Safe
Military Historians at Work
This is a brief survey of some of the more indispensable laborers in the grove of military history.
Consolations of History: Military Historians at Work
Bunk or Battle-Tested?
"It is no longer enough for the officer or NCO to just be familiar with the intricacies of all-source analysis, or to know the enemy Order of Battle. Changes are too fast paced. Army training cannot become mired in a lesson plan for the moment. Today history must figure into the equation. If the study of the shadowy past has taught us anything, it is that history will have appeal for the above average." --from the article on the usefulness of history to the modern soldier.
Consolations of History: Bunk or Battle-Tested
Talking about the science of war, a top Army leader noted that "the duties of a military officer are becoming, year by year, more complex and more difficult to perform.” His words could have been occasioned by a recognition that we are, at the beginning of the 21st century, in the throes of a technological revolution, the Third Wave reported by the Tofflers. Or his remarks could have been prefatory to a study of where the Army needs to be in the next century—a study called Force XXI. But because Maj. Gen. John Schofield was addressing a West Point audience in 1877, more than 120 years ago, we are struck by the realization that the U.S. Army has a tradition of keeping pace with change. It has traditionally met this challenge by relying on military history. With warfare becoming more complicated, it was even more important, Schofield argued for the officer to learn not only from his own “observation, [and] experience," but from "the careful study of the experiences of others who have gone before us." This introduces the first of three ideas that are examined as they exist in the U.S. Army. They are history, values and leadership. These three concepts are interlocking and, most often, one cannot exist without the other two. The values of any society are deeply ingrained in its history and any successful leadership must tap into shared values in order to release the energy of a community. For any leader, a knowledge of history is fundamental to understand what values hold a society together and where they come from.
Consolations of History: Transmitting Values
Enjoying the Dimensions of History
This is an eight-page essay that looks at the mutual roles of the museum visitor and museum worker that combine to make a museum visit a edifying experience.
Consolations of History: Enjoying the Dimensions of History