Book Review: The Embattled Past: Reflections on Military History


by Edward Coffman

Lexingtpn: University Press of Kentucky, 2013. Pp. viii, 202. Illus., notes, index. $40.00. ISBN: 0813142660

A Military Historian’s Thoughts on His Craft

O ne of the most important twentieth century American military historians, Prof. Coffman (emeritus Wisconsin-Madison) brings together more than a dozen essays, some new and some old, that reflect on his craft and its importance to society. 

In his opening essay Coffman discusses how he came to military history.  Of the essays that follow, t wo discuss how working with Forrest Pogue and Thomas D. Clark furthered his professional development.  Three essays discuss Coffman ’s experiences in doing military history, including the joys of research, the touchy problem of the state of military history in academia, and , perhaps most interesting of all, his experience interviewing Douglas MacArthur.  Several other essays explore various aspects of the American military experience, including the Regular/Guard duality, the Philippine Scouts, the importance of World War I to the shaping of future events, and Dwight Eishenhower’s long friendship with his West Point roommate. 

An enjoyable read for anyone interested in military history, The Embattled Past is a must-read for anyone intending a career in the field.  

Note: The Embattled Past is also available at $40.00 as an e-book, ISBN 978-0-8131-4267-8, and pdf, ISBN 978-0-8131-4268-5

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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