Influential Military Historians

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by mahross, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. mahross

    mahross Senior Member

    Gents some thoughts and comments.

    I have been set a task at uni to come up with a list of influential miltary historians through the ages.

    I have posted a list here. Who would you add and why?


  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    As good and interesting as Richard Overy is, there is no way he should be above JFC Fuller in that list.

    Charles Edmonds, who wrote the WW1 OH, should be in there somewhere, too.

    Although I don't much like them, Max Hastings and John Keegan should also be on there.

    David Chandler for sure in respect of the Napoleonic period.

    But I suppose I must ask what is the point of such a list??
  3. mahross

    mahross Senior Member

    Paul I should add the list is not ranked. I drew it up on the terain this morning. As to the reason why well is to examine historians who have influenced the writing of military history throughout history. I can't say much more at the moment.

    I should also caveat that I am thinking in terms of academic historians but of course there are those who have crossed the bridge as it were.

    While I can agree with you on Keegan I am not sure Hastings has influenced many in an academic sense. Yes his writing is popular but does that make it good or influencial?

    Chandler and Edmonds are good choices too.

    You will note I am standing back a bit but that is on purpose:)

  4. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I would be plumping for John Keegan in that list and possibly David Glantz also.
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Christopher Hill.
    I may disagree with almost all of his conclusions, but there's certainly some case for genre-shifting effect on historiography for a particular time. Maybe Hobsbawm is a better example of the Marxist school, but I know Hill better, and he concentrated more specifically on conflict.

    Paul Kennedy.
    'The Rise & Fall of the Great Powers' must be one of the most significant history books of recent(ish) times. It's effect on those that followed, and the overall understanding of just how connected seemingly disparate things can be is pretty hard to underestimate. Again, maybe stretching it a little to call him a military Historian, but conflict is pretty intrinsic to his main themes.
  6. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    For the Second World War specifically, I would have thought the following important to mention:

    Winston Churchill - for better or worse, his six-volume memoir/history has dominated the British interpretation of the war for over sixty years (David Reynolds' recent book on WSC's The Second World War is very good, BTW)

    A.J.P. Taylor - The Origins of the Second World War revived the 'origins' question which had remained largely undiscussed since 1945

    Raul Hilberg - his The Destruction of the European Jews put the Holocaust at the moral center of the war for the first time

    B. H. Liddell Hart - although more often thought of as a theorist than a historian, his postwar collaborations with former Wehrmacht generals, albeit self-serving, also had an enormous influence on thinking about the war.

    Saburo Ienaga - a crucial figure in the Japanese historiography of the war, and the author of the first (and most important) revisionist account of the Pacific conflict from the Japanese perspective.

    Best, Alan
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Dare I say where is 'Paul Reed?' :unsure:
  8. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    That's kind Andy, but in terms of the written word I haven't had much impact on the historiography of WW2... as yet.

    While I can agree with you on Keegan I am not sure Hastings has influenced many in an academic sense. Yes his writing is popular but does that make it good or influencial?

    Ross - I think someone like Terry Copp would disagree. While neither Professor Copp, or myself for that matter, would agree with Hasting's analysis of the campaign in NWE, it cannot be denied that his writing has had a great effect on the perception of it.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Can I suggest you do some WW2 ones then on citations please - You can count me in for a copy of each ;)
  10. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Going to be working on my first WW2 book this winter... watch this space.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cool...Any clues?
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Since I appear to be in a somewhat 'moderatey' mood - Isn't this one about influential Historians? No offence Paul :D

    I think Keegan & Hastings are justified - popularism having it's own power, and it's hard to deny the influence of both on wider Perceptions of WW2.
    (Having said that, I'd perhaps then have to include Beevor, but as I suspect he sold by the million as a 'Dad's Birthday' present, yet was actually read by the lesser number that could stay awake I'd rather not, as I find him neither interesting or influential.)

    Glantz has to be justified doesn't he?
    Seismic shift in perceptions of 'The Eastern Front' since he started mopping up some of the old cold war viewpoints.
    Paul Reed likes this.
  13. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    IMO Mahan is a must, does Von Clausewitz count as historian? he was and still is hugely influential. I would also add Marder but I'm biased by my preference for naval history. Roskill and Morrison are compulsory sources but they are not terribly influential outside naval circles.

    Churchill is not an historian by any stretch, his work is more a self biografy from a major player with litttle or no research to outside sources, on the same criteria you would then need to put in the German generals whose description of the eastern front is still gospel for many.

    Thumbs down for Beevor from me as well.
  14. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    What about Dr. Alfred Price and Martin Middlebrook?
  15. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    What about Dr. Alfred Price and Martin Middlebrook?

    Yep, both good choices IMHO.
  16. JonS

    JonS Member

    Ambrose? *shudder* but a lot of people have read him, and Band of Brothers was probably fairly influential (and, the D-Day museum, and oral archive)

    Tooze? Influenced my understanding a heck of a lot.

    Wider, there's Thucydides of course, and Jomini who could be said to have actually been more influential - if less (mis)quoted - than Clausewitz.

    A good case could be made for Shakespeare too.
  17. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I'd argue Keegan stands out.

    However, if we are talking about a major effect on the popular/cultural aspects of war - then Hastings and Ambrose certainly need to be addressed heavily. Their influence on film, the modern British Army (Hastings has an odd position introducing their official modern history he appears to me as a major detractor of the Army), and the armchair general.

    Those two chaps (and by extension D'Este) certainly should be addressed, influential for all the wrong reasons, PR and spin. Again, thats IMHO.
  18. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    MRD Foot

    Richard Holmes

    Adrian Gilbert
  19. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    How about

    Norman Franks

    Field Marshall Lord Carver

    Cornelius Ryan

    Chaz Bowyer
  20. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Interesting one this. In terms of three Historians who have been influential in the shaping of the wider general public's perception of certain periods of history I would suggest (but certainly in one case in no way endorse)

    T.E Lawrence

    Alan Clark

    Stephen Ambrose

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