[July 11, 2014] The reading and study of military history is one of the pillars in a well-rounded education for military professionals. This includes both officers and enlisted personnel. This concept applies to any leader in any organization. While magazines from professional associations are helpful to see the most recent topics at hand, they also allow us a peak into what the concerns are for the most senior leaders. However, the study of classics is still most appropriate.
Today’s reading list choice is a little different in that it is actually a series of essays that does a good job of arguing for the study of war through reading. Its main point, of course, is that the study of military history is of import to the military professional. But it also reveals the challenges of applying the past to the present.
The Past as Prologue: The Importance of History to the Military Professional. Edited by Williamson Murray and Richard Hart Sinnreich, 2006
This series of essays reinforces the notion the importance of military history. Through the study of military history a professional can begin to understand war and is a fundamental component to the development of great leadership. The essays note that there are pitfalls and that the use of written history to understand the past means that there also must be “skeptical inquiry” for it to be of real use. History, therefore, provides the “contextual understanding” to the thoughtful explanations given by historians on issues such as the cause and impact of major wars on society. This collection of essays strongly encourages military professionals to read more in order to fulfill their obligations better. Yet, it also encourages elected government officials and anyone with civilian interest in the military to also read and study military history.
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