MHQ Reviews: Blogs: Professors of War

ALTHOUGH ACADEMICS have a reputation in some quarters as tenured radicals, the culture of academe is rather conservative. Professors are often wedded to the way things have always been—including the traditional journals and monographs by which they transmit the fruits of their research and reflections. Hence, although blogs have been around for more than 15 years, academic blogging is only now acquiring a measure of professional respectability. That’s a welcome development: Now anyone can peer over the shoulder of military historians at work.

One can, for example, follow the gestation of The Next War in the Air: Britain’s Fear of the Bomber, 1908–1941, a book in progress by Australian historian Brett Holman. His research centers on the place of aviation in British society and culture in the first half of the 20th century, specifically how people responded to the threat of strategic bombing, the fabled “knockout blow” from the air. Holman blogs at Air-Minded (airminded.org).

Professor Jamel Ostwald of Eastern Connecticut State University maintains Skulking in Holes and Corners (jostwald.wordpress.com), about European military history from the Renaissance to Napoleon. Its title is drawn from a phrase used by English authors in the early modern period to contrast their own manly way of fighting with the French penchant for “skulking in holes and corners.” Plus, adds Ostwald, “it’s a pretty good description of the work of early modern historians!”

Professor Brian Sandberg of Northern Illinois University, another early modern Europeanist, maintains an excellent blog at Historical Perspectives (briansandberg.wordpress.com), with a particular focus on the connections between religion, violence, and political culture during the European Wars of Religion.

My own contribution, Blog Them Out of the Stone Age (warhistorian.blogspot.com), is among the oldest academic blogs, having originated in December 2003 as Interrogating the Project of Military History (people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/grimsley1/dialogue/postcolonialism/resistance.htm). Although readers tend to gravitate to a blog’s most recent entries, some of my best posts are the earliest, when the blog was essentially an intellectual journey questioning the boundaries of military history and its relationship to other fields.

Together we four historians also contribute to the official blog of the Society for Military History, the flagship organization for academic military history (smh-hq.org/smhblog), along with U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bateman, an active duty officer who provides historical perspectives on contemporary national security concerns.

 

Mark Grimsley is a professor of history at Ohio State University.

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