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  • Best military historian?

    Historians:

    Who are the greats and who are the minor players amongst military historians and general historians covering conflict?

    Some personal thoughts:

    Simon Beevor: Berlin, Stalingrad etc. Stalingrad was one of the biggest selling military history books of all time and a fantastic read. Has had some criticism in this forum though, but I am not knowledgeable enough to comment.
    Max Hastings: Armageddon, Battle for the Falklands etc. Easy to read and very frank writer with a strong strategic overview. Not afraid to be controversial in his findings.

    Stephen Ambrose: Band of Brothers, D Day etc. Books tend to be excellent reads individually, but sometimes feels as though there is a bit too much cheerleading going on at the expense of critical analysis.

    Lyn Macdonald Passchendaele, Somme etc. Great focus on major strategic turning points, mainly WW1. Good mix of politics and military.

    Carlo D'Este: Patton, Eisenhower etc. Produces books that are pretty much the last word on the subject and therefore quite heavyweight reads. The Paton and Ike books are excellent to read closely together as it gives a great view of the US army moving from chasing Mexican rebels around the place in open top touring cars to the dawn of superpower status.

    John Keegan. On military subjects he is excellent although he tends to seem a bit lost sometimes on the bigger picture and sometimes comes across as too pro-British for my liking.

    Tim Pat Coogan. The Provisional IRA, Michael Collins etc. One of the few writers able to cover the Irish war of independence and the later Troubles in a clear well balanced way. Was required reading for British army officers at one point.

    If I had to nominate one must-read military historian: Max Hastings for his books on the end games both in the European and Pacific theatres.

    Comments or other favorites?
    What would Occam say?

  • #2
    Michael Howard has to be considered one of the best for his concision in relating wars and military periods. While I think of his "War in European History", he gained recognition for his classic "Franco-Prussian War".
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

    Comment


    • #3
      BSM, nice idea this thread. I think it is only right to mention here, among the illustrious names you and RNA have mentioned already:

      Richard Overy, author of amongst others Why the Allies Won and Russia's War. These titles do credit to very complex issues in a concise and yet readable format
      and
      Alistair Horne: for his many books on the French Army ranging from Napoleon ('How far from Austerlitz') via 1870, 1916, 1940 to Algeria ('Savage War of Peace'), all genuine gems: accurate and highly readable. If you do not have them already get them (and in hardcover) almost any way you can
      BoRG

      You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

      Comment


      • #4
        Some of my favorites Vietnam authors:

        Harry G. Summers Jr., author of the classic On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War and long-time editor of Vietnam magazine.

        Shelby L. Stanton, author of the two monumental Vietnam and WW2 Order of Battle as well as Rise and Fall of an American Army, Rangers at War and Green Berets at War.

        Keith William Nolan, all of his books are worth reading, including Ripcord, Sappers In The Wire, The Magnificent Bastards: The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha, 1968 and Death Valley: The Summer Offensive, I Corps, August 1969.

        Jack Shulimson, he was the chief civilian historian of the USMC Historical Center and directed the monumental USMC opertional histories of the Vietnam War in 9 volumes.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Boonierat View Post
          Some of my favorites Vietnam authors:

          Harry G. Summers Jr., author of the classic On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War and long-time editor of Vietnam magazine.

          Shelby L. Stanton, author of the two monumental Vietnam and WW2 Order of Battle as well as Rise and Fall of an American Army, Rangers at War and Green Berets at War.

          Keith William Nolan, all of his books are worth reading, including Ripcord, Sappers In The Wire, The Magnificent Bastards: The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha, 1968 and Death Valley: The Summer Offensive, I Corps, August 1969.

          Jack Shulimson, he was the chief civilian historian of the USMC Historical Center and directed the monumental USMC opertional histories of the Vietnam War in 9 volumes.
          Re: Vietnam,

          I learned alot from S.L.A. Marshall-- Ambush, LZ Bird, Battles in the Monsoon, and others. Also, used Bernard Fall's "Hell in a Very Small Place" as a primer.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

          Comment


          • #6
            For Roman history, I would pick Adrian Goldsworthy.
            The Roman Army at War 100 BC - AD 200
            Roman Warfare
            The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars 265-146BC
            Fields of Battle: Cannae
            In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire
            The Complete Roman Army
            Caesar: Life of a Colossus
            All questions are valid, all answers are tentative.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by captainsennef View Post
              BSM, nice idea this thread. I think it is only right to mention here, among the illustrious names you and RNA have mentioned already:

              Richard Overy, author of amongst others Why the Allies Won and Russia's War. These titles do credit to very complex issues in a concise and yet readable format
              and
              Alistair Horne: for his many books on the French Army ranging from Napoleon ('How far from Austerlitz') via 1870, 1916, 1940 to Algeria ('Savage War of Peace'), all genuine gems: accurate and highly readable. If you do not have them already get them (and in hardcover) almost any way you can
              Shame on me for missing Horne! His work on French military history (To Lose a Battle and the almost perfect Savage War of Peace) are about the best there is.
              What would Occam say?

              Comment


              • #8
                Zaloga.

                Glantz, except for the writing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bernard Fall, "Hell in a very small place"
                  Paul Carell, "Hitler moves east 1941-1943"
                  Robert Asprey, "War in the shadows"
                  Wilhelm Tieke, "Tragedy of the Faithful"
                  Peter Hopkirk, "The Great Game"
                  Alaister Horne, "The Fall of Paris"
                  Barbara Tuchman, "The Guns of August"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I cant believe no one mentioned David G. Chandler! He is by far the greatest of the Napleonic historians. He also was the best in the field of Marlborough studies as well.
                    Gunther Rothenberg is another fave in Napoleonic studies.
                    If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks,glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. Napoleon

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                    • #11
                      This may be another thread, but I consider Roger Spiller the most personally influential military historian. He studied and wrote in the tradition of Siborne, duPicq, Keegan--men in battle.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Rather than repeat some of the names mentioned above I nominate Professor Gary Sheffield. Specialising in WW1 he has spearheaded the attempt to debunk the myths of that war and to rehabilitate the British Army and its commanders in the minds of the general public. Unashamedly revisionist and equally accessible, his 'Forgotten Victory - The First World War: Myths and Realities' should be mandatory reading for any student of the British Army in WW1.
                        Signing out.

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                        • #13
                          I like Robert Citino's work. He has written numerous books in the 'Modern War Studies' series from University Press of Kansas including:

                          Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942
                          The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich
                          Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940
                          If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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                          • #14
                            I'd say Carlo D'Este, Alistair Horne, John Keegan, and Max Hastings are up there for more modern subjects.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Jean Paul Pallud has also put out some good work, including an excellent account of France 40'.
                              If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

                              Comment

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