If military service had become a rite of passage for young men in much of Europe well before the mutual slaughter began in the summer of 1914, neither its ubiquity… Read more War, Gender, and Nation in 19th-Century Europe: A Preliminary Sketch →
“What was once seen as standing ‘outside’ history, demanding silent contemplation but resisting explanation or contextualisation, has now been firmly historicised. Comparative genocide studies, histories of colonialism and genocidal violence, studies of western penal practice and more besides have demonstrated that the processes which led to the Holocaust were integral to modern history, not an aberration from it.”
I study European history, so why did I post about Sand Creek earlier today? And why excerpt seemingly gratuitous violence? I have no expertise in U.S. history, but I am interested in the history of violence per se, which can reveal a lot about peoples and cultures at a given point in history. Further, the U.S. Civil War has some important structural similarities to the Franco-Prussian War, and perhaps to other European wars in the mid nineteenth century.1 Given the causal relationship between the U.S. Civil War and the expansion… Read more Why Atrocities? →
In the New York Times, Ned Blackhawk reminds us, “It’s the 150th anniversary of one of the most appalling massacres of Indians ever.”
In terms of sheer horror, few events matched Sand Creek. Pregnant women were murdered and scalped, genitalia were paraded as trophies, and scores of wanton acts of violence characterize the accounts of the few Army officers who dared to report them. . . .
Sand Creek, Bear River and the Long Walk remain important parts of the Civil War and of American history. But in our popular narrative, the Civil War obscures such campaigns against American Indians. In fact, the war made such violence possible . . .
At a recent lecture on the Great War, Roger Chickering said, “I’m not a military historian.”1 The phrase stuck in my mind because he said it two more times during the course of the lecture and discussion. I’m sure he was trying to avoid letting the discussion get sidetracked by narrower debates about military operations, which was fair enough in the context of his talk about a series of common structural elements in Germany’s, France’s, and Great Britain’s wars. Nonetheless, his words bothered me. Of course, there was nothing surprising… Read more ‘Not a Military Historian’ →
An essay on the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) that I wrote last year appeared in print this fall in a book about war atrocities from the Middle Ages to the twentieth… Read more Atrocities in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71 →
There has been much scrutiny in the press recently about the U.S. outsourcing military missions to private companies like Blackwater. P.W. Singer pointed out many problems with this trend in yesterday’s Washington Post. The most important from my point of view is the weak link between the American people and warmaking: Since the end of the Vietnam War, the United States has sought to ensure that there’s a link between the public and the costs of war, so that good decisions will be made and an ethos of responsibility fostered.… Read more Outsourcing Military Tasks →
Georgetown University in Washington, DC, did not cancel classes on September 12th, so I went into a class packed with mainly freshman at 9:15 a.m. By that point teaching early… Read more Six Years Ago →
These stereoptic cards offer a tale of war reduced to two basic elements: soldiers on parade at home followed by the unburied corpses of soldiers on the battlefield. How should… Read more Stereoptic Views of the Great War →
I was looking through Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Physicists, a play I have used a few times in a survey course on modern Europe. In the back of the English… Read more Paradoxes →