Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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America In Free Fall

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, June 16, 2016

This election year has been defined by social unrest on race, immigration, campus politics, and countless other issues.

Period Military History

This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, by T. R. Fehrenbach

by Barry Strauss via Classics of Military History
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A journalist rather than an academic, Fehrenbach (1925-2013) wrote larger-than-life history of a heroic bent. He is remembered for the bestselling Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans (1968), whose emphasis on gun-slinging white men now makes it politically incorrect. But he also wrote the sad and beautiful Comanches: The Destruction of a People (1974), which shows great admiration for Native Americans. This Kind of War originally appeared in 1963 with the subtitle of A Study in Unpreparedness and was republished in a new edition in 1994.

Autobiography & MemoirAnalysis and Commentary

Anabasis, by Xenophon

by Barry Strauss via Classics of Military History
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Anabasis is a classic story of an army’s retreat from disaster, told by the man who was thrust into the role of saving it. Anabasis means “march inland from the coast,” which is a paradoxical title for a book that is mostly about a march to the coast from inland. But the author, Xenophon, an Athenian, had a taste for irony, borrowed from his teacher, the great philosopher Socrates.

Battle History

Decision at Trafalgar: The Story of the Greatest British Naval Battle of the Age of Nelson, by Dudley Pope

by Barry Strauss via Classics of Military History
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Dudley Pope is best known as a novelist who wrote a well-loved series of books about a fictional Lord Nicholas Ramage, an officer in His Majesty’s Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Pope was also a journalist, writing on naval defense, and he knew the sea. A survivor of a torpedoed merchant ship in World War II, he later lived for over 20 years on a yacht in the Caribbean.

Autobiography & Memoir

The Sergeant in the Snow, by Mario Rigoni Stern

by Barry Strauss via Classics of Military History
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Rigoni Stern began writing this short, powerful memoir of the Russian front in a German prison camp, where he was interned after refusing to continue serving in Mussolini’s army after the armistice with the allies in September 1943. Earlier he served in an elite Italian mountain fighting unit that saw action on various fronts in World War II: France, Albania, Yugoslavia and, most memorably, Russia. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Bread And Mosques

by Max Bootvia Military History in the News
Monday, June 6, 2016

There are some individuals—Donald Trump is now the most prominent—who seem to believe that a “population-centric” counterinsurgency is a waste of time. They don’t see the point of trying to win over the inhabitants and they reject the idea that counterinsurgency is essentially a governance contest. They believe that the way to win is by killing a lot of people. Kill enough, and there won’t be any more insurgents to oppose you.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Russia Poised To Play A Lead Role In Asia Pacific

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Squeezed in Europe by U.S-led sanctions and robust NATO reactions in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea, Russia is now finding itself in a prime position to exploit the unfolding geopolitical dramas stirred up by China in East and Southeast Asia. Moscow has proactively demonstrated its determination to play a leading role in shaping the outcome of the highly explosive regional conflicts, at the expense of Beijing and potentially Washington as well.

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The Hiroshima Question

by Miles Maochun Yuvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Anytime anyone mentions Hiroshima, the word “bomb” becomes an inevitable association. On May 10, the White House dropped another Hiroshima-related bomb on the world through an official announcement: President Barack Obama will “make a historic visit to Hiroshima” on May 27.

Autobiography & Memoir

Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain

by Williamson Murrayvia Classics of Military History
Monday, May 16, 2016

Vera Brittain arrived at Somerville College, Oxford concurrently with the outbreak of the First World War. Almost immediately she left the comfortable confines of that most beautiful of universities to volunteer to serve on Western Front as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment. The fact that the men in her family as well as those she befriended had joined up immediately was undoubtedly a factor that motivated her to leave Oxford. 

Battle History

History of the Peloponnesian War, by Thucydides

by Williamson Murrayvia Classics of Military History
Monday, May 16, 2016

In his introduction, Thucydides remarks that “it will be enough for me, however, if these words of mine are judged useful by those who want to understand clearly the events which happened in the past and which (human nature being what it is) will at some time or other and in much the same ways, be repeated in the future.” 


Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Williams-Griffis Fellow in Contemporary Asia
Research Fellow
Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow
Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow
W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow
Research Fellow

The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict examines how knowledge of past military operations can influence contemporary public policy decisions concerning current conflicts. 

As the very name of Hoover Institution attests, military history lies at the very core of our dedication to the study of "War, Revolution, and Peace." Indeed, the precise mission statement of the Hoover Institution includes the following promise: "The overall mission of this Institution is, from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and by the study of these records and their publication, to recall man's endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life." From its origins as a library and archive, the Hoover Institution has evolved into one of the foremost research centers in the world for policy formation and pragmatic analysis. It is with this tradition in mind, that the "Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict" has set its agenda—reaffirming 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. By bringing together a diverse group of distinguished military historians, security analysts, and military veterans and practitioners, the working group seeks to examine the conflicts of the past as critical lessons for the present.

Victor Davis Hanson on War in the Contemporary World — WATCH

The careful study of military history offers a way of analyzing modern war and peace that is often underappreciated in this age of technological determinism. Yet the result leads to a more in-depth and dispassionate understanding of contemporary wars, one that explains how particular military successes and failures of the past can be often germane, sometimes misunderstood, or occasionally irrelevant in the context of the present.

The working group is chaired by Victor Davis Hanson with counsel from Bruce S. Thornton and David L. Berkey, along with collaboration form the group’s distinguished scholars, military historians, analysts, journalists, and military officers.