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"American Universities Declare War on Military History" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2021 9:04 p.m. PST

"The world applauds the scientists who have created vaccines to deliver humanity from Covid-19. One certainty about our future: There will be no funding shortfall for medical research into pandemics.

Now, notice a contradiction. War is also a curse, responsible for untold deaths. Humans should do everything possible to mitigate it. And even if scientists cannot promise a vaccine, the obvious place to start working against future conflicts is by researching the causes and courses of past ones.

Yet in centers of learning across North America, the study of the past in general, and of wars in particular, is in spectacular eclipse. History now accounts for a smaller share of undergraduate degrees than at any time since 1950. Whereas in 1970, 6% of American male and 5% of female students were history majors, the respective percentages are now less than 2% and less than 1%, respectively…"
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RudyNelson01 Feb 2021 10:07 p.m. PST

American universities have never stressed military history. I attended a school that had been a mandatory ROTC school up until Vietnam. We had one military history class that covered American wars. The professor also American Civil War which he at least covered the campaigns but the majority was the causes and reconstruction, 2/3.

Even in the specialty courses military campaigns were not covered. American Revolution course had no military at all. Only covered the Congress and creating of the key documents. Taught by the Herstory professor who was a strong Feminist. Napoleon is was similar. Personal Napoleon and French Monarchy history. No campaigns.
This was in the early this concept is not new.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2021 11:00 p.m. PST

And there I assumed that it was just my Quaker alma mater that didn't study military history.

Of course, most of the history and political science students were serious wargamers, and we learned more military history from that than from any of our courses. Most of my papers were about military matters -- the Indian Wars, the Opium War, the Boer Wars, etc.

Swampking02 Feb 2021 12:06 a.m. PST

My experience in the mid-80s and early '90s was similar. I was a history major (I have a B.A. and an M.A. in the field). I don't remember any military history being taught, although one of my history professors was former U. S. Naval Intelligence and had worked for the DIA, which was rare in itself. A professor at a university that actually loved the United States, thought it was the best country in the world and put that love on the line in service to the country? The shock! The horror!

Once the 'socially active' historians of the 1950s-1960s decided to align themselves with politically active causes and use their profession to advance those causes, regardless of the evidence, the field developed a cancer that could never be excised.

Starting in the late '90s and into the '00s, that cancer spread throughout the Humanities as a whole, with no end to the lunacy. This situation has culminated in the Orwellian nightmare on American university campuses where history is longer a requirement but 'sensitivity training' is mandatory for all incoming 'fresh-people' (I actually saw that term on my alma mater's website).

Military history, as a genre of historical writing, has been in decline from mainstream historians for almost half a century, with brief spurts of interest from the general public (the 'Civil War' craze of the late '90s being a good example); however, I doubt that the genre will disappear anytime soon, unless the Progressive steamroller decides to set its sights on wargaming (for the umpteenth time). If that happens, it'll be up to the 'Samizdat' publishers to keep the genre alive (much like the early wargaming publications in the 1970s and '80s), until sanity returns which might take a few decades.

LaserGrenadier Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 4:08 a.m. PST

I completed a PhD in military history in 1980. It was not easy to find a university that had a notable military historian to serve as my major professor. During all my years in college and graduate school I had only one course in military history, and it was taught with a barely disguised antiwar emphasis.

Setting that aside, the point I want to make is that military history was rarely considered an acceptable field of study at universities. Military history was considered to be a subject for "trade" schools such as West Point and Sandhurst. As late as the 1960's a writer like Bruce Catton was not considered to be a "real" historian.

Not long after I graduated my university dropped history from the common curriculum, which meant no one had to take it any more. No students means no dollars. If a class does not get the minimum number of students it is cut. It does not take long to gut a program.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 4:09 a.m. PST

"until sanity returns which might take a few decades."

… or a few generations.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 5:13 a.m. PST

Uts a rubbish article…written by a pseudo-historian. He has no stats….or proof….

Swampking02 Feb 2021 6:07 a.m. PST

Dave with all due respect, did you read the article at all? Hastings is a well-known 'mainstream' historian. To call him a 'pseudo-historian' would put him in the ranks of Holocaust deniers. Something I would reject vociferously, if it weren't so laughable.

No stats? No proof? How many well-known historians did he quote? He listed stats in the 2nd paragraph! What more do you want? A quote from the article:

Less than half of all history departments now employ a diplomatic historian, against 85% in 1975. As for war, as elderly scholars retire from posts in which they have studied it, many are not replaced: the roles are redefined.

Excuse me, but isn't 85% in 1975 a statistic? Isn't that proof? I would love to see the statistics now. At my state university, there was only 1 diplomatic historian and he was in his 70s. If it isn't 'social justice' or 'racial theory', it isn't going to be taught in American history. The 1619 Project has won, history has lost.

Tell ya what go to Uncle Google and type in "Military History course" and you will find the top link according to


There are only 8 courses offered at American universities and 1 of those is at a graduate school.

Again, I would ask what more evidence do you need?

15th Hussar02 Feb 2021 6:43 a.m. PST


Amidst the beating of chests, gnashing of teeth and pointing of fingers…many of you have failed to realize a very simple fact.

Edukation dun ain't what it yewsed to bee!

In short, it's not lib this, blank that…it is very simple…it's BIZNESS…as in How can we make $$$ and, in turn it's what the STUDENTIA want…they want to make $$$ TWO!

Got it?

My daughter DREAMED of becoming a Professor of English Lit at a (traditional) Liberal arts college, and it's been a tough road. She's doing well, but it may take her another few years to even get her foot in the door and she HAS the credentials!

So stop blaming this and THAT,it's the Culture where we DON'T TAX BILLIONAIRES but we expect some poor schlub to work for $7 USD smackers or less, in some service industry job.

So someone who actually has two brane sells that actually rub together once a year starts to think, why do something I love when I can MAKE MONEY!

Money, Ffolkes…got it?

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 7:15 a.m. PST

The study of History is not dying everywhere. At the university where I teach History, we have more than doubled the number of history graduates in recent years.

The university has around 800 students. Of this number between 40 and 50 are History majors, and last year we graduated 16 students.


I should also mention that our graduates have little trouble finding employment in the fields of their choice or being accepted to graduate and/or law school.

We have a small faculty (two full-time and on half-time faculty). That said, the other full time faculty member and I both incorporate aspects of Military History in the courses that we teach.

15th Hussar02 Feb 2021 8:00 a.m. PST

That's good to hear, Kevin!

M1Fanboy02 Feb 2021 8:14 a.m. PST

My own take? Many history professors see military history as something for "the buffs" (aka amateurs) who aren't credentialed or the military. I honestly think the lack of teaching military and diplomatic history lately is going to be a factor that contributes to the beginning of another major conflict.

Speaking of American academia, I would have thought 9/11 and the subsequent conflicts would have been a clue by four to the academics out there that yes, Virginia, it helps to teach military history. Sadly, this is not the case. Most academics are happy to do the same thing they did post-Vietnam, stick their heads in the sand and treat the subject as taboo. Most of my military history knowledge is via picking up a book on my own, not in any sort of class, with the exception of one class in my ROTC days.

What's the solution? I dunno. I have some half-baked theories I won't share because they're at best, Kentucky Windage with a side of Wild Arse Guess. But I will say this? To fail to understand war, and it's causes, as well as diplomatic history is going to rob generations of policy makers, diplomats, and generals of a tool they desperately need.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 8:30 a.m. PST

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child." – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Garand02 Feb 2021 9:23 a.m. PST

Back when I was an undergraduate in History, some 20 years or more ago, the emphasis was not on military history, but in other fields, like economic history, social trends over time, etc. The attitude in those days was that political history was dramatic (& military history is IMHO a subsect of political history), but had a weaker influence compared to FREX economic history. Despite having an obvious interest in military history, I'm not sure I disagree with this viewpoint.

But the point made above that it is all about the dollars anymore is true in my opinion. Universities (at least in the US) are less about getting an education, & more about getting a degree to make money. I can understand this attitude, but I also feel it can be an unhealthy one as well.


15th Hussar02 Feb 2021 9:24 a.m. PST

Well stated, M1Fanboy and SMM!

Brian Smaller02 Feb 2021 10:19 a.m. PST

Universities in the western world have become a place to churn out drones using a bums on seats business method. Meanwhile, Indian universities churn out engineers and software developers by the million. In my IT workplace in New Zealand about a third of the staff are Indian.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 11:25 a.m. PST



Perris070702 Feb 2021 12:15 p.m. PST

The new push in educational history curriculum is the 1619 push. Google it.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 3:29 p.m. PST

Had military history courses, including military film classes, all through undergrad and grad school in the 1971-78 period. Real issue that dragged down history classes in general was the removal and minimizing of the number of humanity courses as minimum requirements (as well as science, math and language classes) in the early 1970s which allowed students to avoid these classes. This caused a drastic reduction in history slots at the college level as students flowed to intro classes to get their scaled down humanity requirements. If given a choice of history classes or a Soc class, history lost.

I sat through a lot of intro courses as a AI and grading blue books where it was very apparent that the vast majority of the students just wanted to get a passing grade and not bother to actually learn anything (like how to spell Hitler's name or which states fought on which side in the ACW).

It was a vicious circle as frightened college history professors dumbed down their classes to entice students to attend them as low class size resulted in fewer professors. Result was bland classes, older professors (tenure counts) and no openings for young wannabe history professors (I was one of them). Number of college history professors dropped dramatically.

And I'd suggest the lowering standard or requirements had a lot to do with the flood of students during the VN war avoiding the draft. Most of them seemed to just want a teacher's degree and did not want to work hard to get it. As one of only 2 ROTC students on UMPG campus (along with Curtis Allen), it was made apparent to us as we had to travel 40 miles to Bowdoin College to attend ROTC.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2021 12:52 a.m. PST

I would argue that the desire to get a job after college is not a driving factor. Colleges are currently churning out tons of graduates with useless degrees. Just look at the renewed push to 'cancel' student debt, (i.e. have working class Americans pay for it).

In my opinion the driving factor behind a lot of this is the college's business model. That model relies on there being no consequences for turning out a useless product. The students aren't paying for their education for the most part, their parents are and they're paying with government backed loans. Since they don't have to produce economically viable graduates, they teach garbage that has no use in the real world.

A friend of mine is a dean at a college in New England. He told me what's killing his school now is that there are no students on campus. A major revenue stream for the school is housing and feeding students. The inflated costs they charge the students is where a lot of the school's profits come from.

Wolfhag03 Feb 2021 6:52 a.m. PST

There is a difference between education and indoctrination.


mildbill03 Feb 2021 9:33 a.m. PST

"That which is the business of all should be studied by all." B F Haldane

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