Classics of Military History

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Biography

Wellington: The Years of the Sword, by Elizabeth Longford (1969-72)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Although Elizabeth Longford’s Wellington: The Years of the Sword has now finally been superseded as a factual account of the Duke of Wellington’s military career by Rory Muir’s two-volume work published in 2014-15, her book is still unsurpassed as an insight into Wellington the man. 

Military Fiction

Life and Fate: A Novel, by Vassily Grossman (1988)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

If War and Peace was the greatest novel to arise from the War of 1812, Vassily Grossman’s Life and Fate is its equivalent for the Russo-German struggle that started with Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and was only to end with his suicide in April 1945.

Period Military History

The Campaigns of Napoleon, by David G. Chandler ([1966] 1967)

by Andrew Robertsvia Classics of Military History
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Although David Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon was written nearly half a century ago, it remains the standard work on the subject and represents a monumental work of scholarship.

Autobiography & Memoir

Storm of Steel (In Stahlgewittern), by Ernst Jünger (2004)

by Williamson Murrayvia Classics of Military History
Monday, March 7, 2016

In a new, and far better translation by Michael Hofmann, Ernst Jünger’s account of his three years of service on the Western Front in World War I represents one of the great pieces of literature from that conflict.

Autobiography & Memoir

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, by T.E. Lawrence (1922)

by Max Bootvia Classics of Military History
Monday, March 7, 2016

The cult of celebrity around T.E. Lawrence was created by the American journalist Lowell Thomas immediately after World War I and expanded with the 1962 release of David Lean’s magnificent film Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the greatest books to come out of World War I.

Weapons & Technology

Soviet Strategy For Nuclear War, by Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. and Amoretta M. Hoeber (1979)

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Classics of Military History
Monday, March 7, 2016

The Soviet view of nuclear war has never been readily available to American audiences. Beginning in the late 1960s (after the Glassboro, NJ summit of 1967), the Soviet Union went to great lengths to convince Americans that they shared the terms of reference that the above- mentioned books had established in America. 

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The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict strives to reaffirm the Hoover Institution's dedication to historical research in light of contemporary challenges, and in particular, reinvigorating the national study of military history as an asset to foster and enhance our national security. Read more.

Over time, a popular and scholarly consensus has been reached that a few singular military histories and philosophies of war offer unparalleled wisdom. Yet these landmark studies span 2,500 years of history, appear in a myriad of languages, and reference thousands of conflicts, and thus require brief, analytical introductions by contemporary military historians to guide the reader of how best to approach such a vast but often underappreciated literature.

The banner image is Gabriel Salmon's Hercules Fighting the Giants. Additional information available from the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.