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Letter From MHQ, Spring 2012

By William W. Horne 
Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: February 10, 2012 
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We are pleased to roll out our own small surprises with this issue

What is it about surprise attacks? Tales of warriors swooping down and catching their enemy unawares are irresistible, and we have four in this issue. In Alan Axelrod's "Fur Frenzy," Indian raiders seeking control of the North American fur trade descend on unsuspecting villages to enthusiastically torture, scalp, and slaughter. In "Sherman's Folly at Shiloh," Winston Groom details the bloody Confederate surprise attack that nearly routed William T. Sherman and hardened him into the war's fiercest general. Two other stories describe America's response to the most famous surprise attacks in U.S. history, Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Strikingly, the 1942 Doolittle raid on Tokyo and the 2001 CIA–Special Forces operation that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan, though themselves essentially surprise attacks, were not intended to destroy the enemy entirely. The planners had precise, modest goals: Jimmy Doolittle's raid (covered by MHQ contributing editor Sir Alistair Horne) was meant to put Japan on notice that it was vulnerable and to hand Americans a propaganda victory in the darkest days of the war; the Afghanistan attack (chronicled by former special forces commander and MHQ editor-at-large Rod Paschall) would open that country to conventional American forces. Both succeeded, and suggest alternative scripts to all-out war in the modern era.

We are pleased to roll out our own small surprises with this issue. Along with tweaking MHQ's design for an ever more cohesive and elegant look, MHQ's small (but brilliant) staff—Barb, Drew, Jenny, and Libby—has worked with me over several months to create Front Lines, a section that includes reader favorites Fighting Words and The War List, and four new featurettes: Weapons Check, the dissection of a great weapon; From the Dossier, stuff you ­didn't know about famed warriors; Speaking of…, quotes related to a single bellicose theme; and Battle Schemes, unique maps, blueprints, and other plans of war. We've also added a bright new column, Unknown Soldier, about key figures now largely lost to history. Finally, many of you have asked when MHQ will be offered digitally, and we're thrilled to be able to say, "Very soon." In addition to sharing selected articles and "breaking" history on our website and Facebook page, MHQ will be available soon on e-readers; see for details. If that is not enough, I have joined Twitter, tweeting on all things military history—follow me if you will: @MHQjournal. More to come, though we know it's a lot to take in: Feel free to drop me a note and let us know how we're doing.



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