Encyclopedia of the American Military: Studies of the History, Traditions, Policies, Institutions, and Roles of the Armed Forces in War and Peace, Vols. I-III

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Encyclopedia of the American Military: Studies of the History, Traditions, Policies, Institutions, and Roles of the Armed Forces in War and Peace, Vols. I-III

Edited by John E. Jessup and Louise B. Ketz
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994
2,255 pp. $320.00
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This substantial and useful reference work falls into six parts: a thematic account of war and American history, a more analytic discussion of how the U.S. government has made military policy, a rather uneven survey of each of the armed services, capsule accounts of each major American war, and two overlapping sections, one on military arts and sciences and another on military practices. Fine bibliographies attached to each article and a useful 75-page timeline round out the work.

The encyclopedia reflects, if not quite the official view of American military history, something close to it. The editor-in-chief and his advisory board all come out of various official history programs, and the list of contributors reflects extensive participation by former and current government researchers. Given the solid professional standards of official military history in the United States, this does not hurt the quality of the product -- indeed, some of the civilian academic contributions are notably weaker than the rest, though they need not have been. As in any encyclopedia of this kind, a few articles pursue pet topics rather than larger themes, or fall off a generally high standard of exposition. All in all, however, this well-executed work will meet the needs of college- and graduate-level students and be useful to a broad professional audience.

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