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A People's History of the U.S. Military: Ordinary Soldiers Reflect on Their Experience of War, from the American Revolution to Afghanistanby Michael A Bellesiles
Synopses & Reviews
"In just under 400 pages Central Connecticut State University history professor Bellesiles (1877: America's Years of Living Violently) provides a captivating history, based largely on first-person accounts, of America's military. Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs of American soldiers over more than two centuries, he connects the soldiers' accounts with a contextual narrative that ensures the book is more than a disconnected anthology of testimonies of service. Bellesiles's most important contribution is focusing the different chapters on various themes of military service unique to each war. For example, in the first chapter he focuses on the poverty that motivated soldiers to join the American Revolution with Congress's promise of pay, food, and a piece of land; in the chapter on the War of 1812 he emphasizes the nation's lack of preparedness and the ineffectiveness of the undisciplined, occasionally mutinous militia; and in the final chapter on Iraq and Afghanistan he investigates contemporary issues such as gays in the military and women in combat, concluding that the military has often evolved ahead of the rest of society, offering opportunities to minorities and the poor, and functioning as a meritocracy. Bellesiles's thematic structure gives the book a fresh perspective and makes it an excellent educational tool. Agent: Dan Green, Pom Inc. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In A Peoples History of the U.S. Military, historian Michael A. Bellesiles draws from three centuries of soldiers personal encounters with combat—through fascinating excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, as well as audio recordings, film, and blogs—to capture the essence of the American military experience firsthand, from the American Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Military service can shatter and give meaning to lives; it is rarely a neutral encounter, and has contributed to a rich outpouring of personal testimony from the men and women who have literally placed their lives on the line. The often dramatic and always richly textured first-person accounts collected in this book cover a wide range of perspectives, from ardent patriots to disillusioned cynics; barely literate farm boys to urbane college graduates; scions of founding families to recent immigrants, enthusiasts, and dissenters; women disguising themselves as men in order to serve their country to African Americans fighting for their freedom through military service.
A work of great relevance and immediacy—as the nation grapples with the return of thousands of men and women from active military duty—A Peoples History of the U.S. Military will become a major new touchstone for our understanding of American military service.
About the Author
Michael A. Bellesiles teaches history at Central Connecticut State University. The author of numerous books, including 1877: America's Year of Living Violently, he lives in Connecticut.
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