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For the Common Defense (A Review)
I love history. Even more than history, I love military and constitutional history. I can’t get enough of it. I think I got this from my father, who is a prolific student of history. I grew up spending the summers perusing his many Time/Life and other books on history, especially World War II.
If you’re serious about studying military history, there is one book that you cannot do without in your library: FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE: A Military History of the United States from 1607 to 2012 by Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski.
Featuring extensive revisions and entirely new chapters addressing the last twenty years of military history to bring the book completely up to date, For the Common Defense encapsulates our great military heritage within the covers of one, fully encompassed book. While most history books focus on specific periods of military history, FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE tackles the full narrative of this history, examining the characteristics of our evolving military policy alongside the impact that policy has had on America’s international relations and domestic development.
From the earliest pilgrims that began populating Jamestown and Plymouth, American citizens have a rich history of military prowess. In the 17th Century, there was a constant threat of native American attacks and harassment. These small communities relied heavily on local militias for their protection. Additionally, they had to be able to counter encroachments from other European settlers also trying to settle the New World.
FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE details everything from our earliest militia beginnings and our most recent military engagements. Contrary to what you’d probably think, it’s not a boring book to read by any means. It features writing that puts the whole of American warfare into perspective in a way that even casual observers of history will be able to relate. It offers the most comprehensive examination of the nation’s military history and policies available.
At 736 pages, it’s not an overnight read, but it will keep you wanting to turn the pages. Authors Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski are so good at their story telling that you’ll find yourself staying up way past your bedtime just trying to soak it all in.
Just because FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE covers our nation’s entire military history, don’t think that many of our campaigns are reduced to footnotes. I think I can honestly give away all my other military history books. It’s an all-encompassing history book that can be bookmarked and referenced often, regardless of the subject matter.
The authors have replaced chapters on Vietnam, Korea, and the collapsed Soviet Union to explore our up-to-date role in these regions. Similarly, brand new chapters examining the complex role of war in the United States since 1994 have been added to the book. In these new sections, the authors go further than just reflecting on the battles, as they also examine the ideological shifts that have recently taken place in how we perceive warfare. The authors have also composed a chapter to put today’s War on Terror in perspective against the nation’s complicated history of relations with its enemies.
I can’t recommend FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE highly enough. The paperback runs only $28 – a steal for the content and page count! But, you can get a copy right here for $10 less!