In 1993, two years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Roger Reese, now a professor at Texas A&M, was at the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow. “It was pretty unusual then for a Westerner to show up there, but I had the proper papers, and they granted my requests.” That was the beginning of a decades-long search into Soviet records, and Reese has learned the tricks of that particular tradecraft. “The real data on the Stalin purge I wrote about in this issue of MHQ is in KGB archives. Foreigners can’t access that, but Russian historians have had access in the past, so I work with their published research.
“When Putin came in, though, the leading staffs of archives were replaced for political motives—he wanted the right kind of people who would not allow access to certain things.” When asked whether recent tensions between Russia and the United States might affect his research, Reese says he’s “cautiously pessimistic”—a favorite term, he says, with Russian scholars.
Ron Soodalter grew up in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts and was weaned on stories of the early conflicts between settlers and Native Americans. He lived just down the street from the palisaded hilltop where, in 1675, Indian warriors gathered before burning Springfield to the ground. He has always been fascinated by the powerful dynamics that led almost instantly to armed clashes all along North America’s Eastern Seaboard between the very disparate cultures of Native Americans and Europeans. In this issue he looks at a particularly bloody example of those clashes in Virginia’s Tidewater region.
Douglas Porch, distinguished professor and former chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has written extensively on French military history and on World War II. In this issue, he considers whether irregular warfare was as effective as its proponents maintain—a topic he also covers in his latest book, Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War (2013). His other books include The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary Fighting Force (2010), The French Secret Services (2003), Wars of Empire (2000), and The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II (2008). He is currently writing a book on French combatants in World War II.